How to Grow An Herb Garden
Its Easy to Grow an Herb Garden
If you love fresh tasting food, then perhaps you've considering growing your own herb garden? This type of container gardening is easy and practically foolproof. After all, many of the herbs commonly used in cooking are technically weeds!
Whether you grow an herb garden from seeds or purchase starts at your local nursery, its easy to mix and match your favorite culinary herbs in a container or two. You don't need a backyard, either. Herbs grow well in pots - whether outdoors on a patio or deck, or indoors on a windowsill.
Trust me - you really cannot go wrong, particularly if you use quality gardening potting soil and water regularly. With practice, you'll find which plants do best at your home and the proper amount of nutrients (if any) that are needed.
Once you start enjoying fresh herbs that you've grown yourself, you may even find yourself preparing more homemade meals! Plus, you can save a great deal of money since you'll only cut what you need for your ingredients. No more basil or oregano going bad in your refrigerator before you can use it all!
Grow an Herb Garden Indoors
If you don't regularly garden, or if you simply don't have space to grow an herb garden, your best bet is some indoor pots. In fact, you can purchase potted herbs that are already mature! Simply keep them in a sunny location - careful not to be exposed to very intense sunlight that could burn or cause wilting - and water 1-2 times per week. You could use an indoor plant fertilizer two times per year.
As with other indoor plants, be careful not to overwater.
My children enjoy growing plants from seeds. Get a paper cup (biodegradable is best), fill it 2/3 of the way with potting soil. Add a seed (try basil, thyme, parsley, or dill), cover with another 1/2 inch of soil and gently water. Place in sunlight. After a few days, the plant will sprout and your kids will delight in watching it grow! They may even be more enthusiastic in trying new foods or, (gasp!) salad, using their homegrown herbs.
Growing Herbs in Container Gardens
Fresh dill, lemon thyme, lavender, parsley and oregano can literally be at your fingertips just outside your backdoor. Just as with an indoor herb garden, you can enjoy fresh herbs from seeds or starts. During the growing season, many commercial nurseries carry a wide variety of 4-inch herb seedlings. They are usually inexpensive and offer you a quick-start solution to an herb garden.
If you'll be growing your herbs from seeds, be sure to start them in a greenhouse or other sheltered location. Once the plants reach 4-inch size and danger of frost has passed, you can transplant them in a container outdoors. Water regularly (but do not drown) and fertilize once per growing season. As noted above, herbs are fast growing and may not even need additional fertilizer if they are in a sunny spot and well-drained soil.
In order to prevent rot, ensure that your potting containers include holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. During extreme temperatures, you may wish to move the pots indoors or into a garage for shelter from heat or frost.
Herb Gardens in Small Spaces
Herb Gardening Without Borders
You'll want to choose a sunny location that receives about 75% sunlight during the day. Morning and early afternoon sun is best, with some shading in the afternoon. Use quality potting soil or compost to ensure good drainage. Keep in mind that these plants can grow quickly, so allow adequate space between other plants to minimize crowding.
Green gardening techniques are recommended for best results. Mulching around the base of your plants will cut down on the amount of water needed. Natural insecticides or fertilizers are preferred as well. After all, you're going to be eating these plants!
Herbs come in a variety of shapes and colors. From yellow and green foliage (think lemon thyme) to small white flowers (alyssum) or fragrant purple stems (lavender), herbs can be a lovely addition to your garden both from a visual and culinary perspective!
If you aren't sure which herbs to plant, browse through your favorite recipes and see which herbs are called for in the ingredients most often. If you love Mexican food, cilantro would be a great addition to your garden. Italian enthusiasts will want to include basil and oregano. Tea lovers will enjoy fresh peppermint!
Try this too - go to your local gardening store and run your fingers gently along the leaves of potted herbs. Which fragrances do you most enjoy? That is your cue on which herbs you may want to grow at your home.
If nothing else, growing your own herbs may encourage you to do a bit more homecooking. With fresh ingredients, you'll be inspired to mix up your own salsa or spaghetti sauce - a healthier alternative as well!
How to Grow the Perfect Herb Garden
© 2010 Stephanie Hicks
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