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Gardening Techniques For Herbs: How To Successfully Grow Your Favorite Herbs

Updated on February 28, 2011

Culinary Basics - How to Grow Your Own Herbs

Part of culinary basics and cooking ingredients is all about herbs. Herbs make up a vital part of healthy recipes and it pays to have the best ingredients to work with.

There are numerous ways to grow your own herbs. Herbs are one of those plants that seem to pretty much take care of themselves if properly planted and cared for.

Herbs do require well-drained soil.

Herbs prefer a sunny location – no matter where they are planted.

Fertilizer is not mandatory but can be used. I use a soil mixture with fertilizer mixed in and also use an organic mulch.

courtesy wikicommons
courtesy wikicommons

Culinary Basics - Growing Your Own Herbs

Some herbs are more aggressive than others and will take over a garden. The most aggressive herb I have ever encountered is mint. While I love mint, it spreads like wildfire and unless you have the space to handle THAT MUCH MINT (I could go into business making mint tea) – it is a little daunting. I also planted several kinds so that multiplied my problem with the dastardly mint!



Only in the case of mint and its brethren, I think I would recommend planting the mint in the container. I think in hindsight that might help stop its spread. It does send out roots and feeders like an internet backlink - so it is best to pull upstarts or give to friends. Planting on a hill works great for this particular herb as it will literally cover the entire slope.

I grow as many of my own herbs as I can in summer and then cut them throughout summer and into early fall. I dry them throughout this period and save them in airtight containers or zip-lock bags. Some I freeze such as chives.

I have my own stash of herbs that lasts me the full year until the next planting.

Certain herbs attract bees and butterflies. I’ve also noticed that certain herbs attract birds as well.

Many Ways To Grow Herbs

If you have the room, an herb garden is a wonderful way to grow them. Let your imagination be your guide.

Check your area for what herbs do best and be aware of the growing season. Cutting the herbs and drying them periodically forces more growth, thus more herbs!

PLANT IN POTS

If you have limited space or pesky malamutes as I do that think herbs are part of the plan you have to feed them, planting them in pots may be your best bet!

Make sure if planting in pots that you give them a big enough pot to expand their root system. Add in some peat moss or gravel in the bottom to promote good drainage.

Add good quality potting soil (with fertilizer if you want to stimulate growth).

Harvest often and you will get a higher yield.

The biggest problem with this method is having the herbs in containers that are too small. The advantage of this method is being able to move them anywhere you like!

GROW HERBS ON THE WINDOWSILL

Herbs can be grown in containers inside on a windowsill. I found that this method did not work as well even though we have constant light where we live. Indoors the herbs seemed to attract insects or gnats while outside I have no problem with them.

If you grow herbs inside, make sure that they have as much exposure to light as possible. Also make sure that the pots are big enough to contain the herbs and again, allow for root spread.

SPECIAL CONTAINERS

There are special containers such as topsy-turvy containers now to grow herbs. I have not tried them though I’m tempted! I have seen the new topsy-turvy's planted with herbs all mixed together - and also have seen them with tomatoes, peppers, chilies, etc.

Just the other day I saw someone with a garden full of herbs all planted in a traditional bed but they had a small tire containing each specific herb.  Different! I'm not sure if there is any health 'risk' about that but it was clever.

READYMADE LUMP PLANTINGS

Many stores offer several herbs in a container of various kinds and they all grow together. I’ve done this myself planting in large containers. The only downfall with this method was that I did not buy a large enough container to get a high yield. Herbs like to spread out and grow so make sure you always allow lots of room.

FRESH VERSUS DRIED HERBS EQUIVALENCY

Rule of thumb for herbs is that 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs will equal 1 teaspoon of the same herb in the dried state.

DRYING YOUR HERBS ONCE HARVESTED

You can air-dry herbs or you can oven-dry herbs. You can also purchase a commercial dehydrator and dry them that way. I make bouquets of herbs with kitchen twine after washing and drying them in a salad spinner – and hang them from my pot rack to dry out.

HERB GARDEN DESIGNS

Try a raised bed of herbs

  • Make a stair step garden set in a corner which is very attractive (and easy on the back) You can go up as high as you're able to reach
  • Do a raised bed allowing plenty of room for each kind
  • Mint might need its own bed

Plant a culinary garden (for all our cooks out there) My garden has

  • Several kinds of basil (you can’t have too much basil)
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Several kinds of parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Several kinds of thyme
  • Several kinds of oregano
  • Lavender
  • The cursed mint.

I want to plan space to grow

  • Caraway
  • Chervil
  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Nasturtiums
  • Onion

These are all part of culinary basics when it comes to herbs and the kitchen

A garden of flowering herbs can be a beautiful addition to any yard.

  • They attract bees and butterflies.
  • Herbs like lavendar are a wonderful addition. Dry and use in foods or in sachets

Create a patio garden of herbs. Sit out and enjoy the scents in the summer!

Wall planting - Place different pots of herbs along the top of a wall in pots. This is what I do now to keep them safe from malamute consumption. They are super easy to harvest!

HERB PLANTING BASICS

You can start herbs from seed indoors or outdoors. In most climates, it is best to start indoors or in a greenhouse. Check your climate zone for planting time so that they will be ready to go outdoors at the right time.

Purchase can start at the nursery, what most of us do. The plants should say they are hardy to what temperature. If they are grown somewhere else and brought in, they may be hardy to another climate region's temperature zone and they will not come back in your garden no matter what. In that case, you will need to replace them each year.

Wherever you plant your herbs, turn the soil over. Make sure it is fresh well aerated soil.

Dig a hole about twice the size of the bottom of the plant and then fill it with some compost or other organic material.

Take the plant from the container (unless it is mint) and place in the ground or the container. Fill the hole with soil and water.

Trim back just as with any plant if it becomes too leggy, if it is growing out of its perimeter. In the case of mint, you will not know until it comes up somewhere else – usually 5 feet away, so pull any unwanted starts before they begin to send off more feeders.

Herbs love sun, sun and more sun!


As part of expanding our cooking skills and learning the culinary basics, herbs play a pivotal role in the creation of healthy and delicious recipes.  They can also provide us with sensory stimulation and healing properties when they are made into teas, concoctions, tisanes, and herbal remedies.

As in all gardening, I love seeing my herbs grow and flourish.  I also love the reward of having fresh, organic herbs for an entire season.  Happy herbing!

Culinary Basics - How to Grow Basil

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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Gardencook - I have a hard time with basil because it is so hard to dry out - will have to check it out! Keep growing too!!

    • GardenCook profile image

      GardenCook 

      7 years ago from Northern Utah

      Wonderful article, thank you. Had an idea for preserving herbs not mentioned here. Check out saving basil hub. Keep growing

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Thanks Spice Rack for commenting. It is really great to grow your own herbs!

    • profile image

      Spice Rack 

      8 years ago

      I would say that this hub is really awesome.Its really nice to grow some herbs on your garden.Having your own harvested herb on your spice rack feels really great.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Soni - and thanks for the good luck charm!

    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is an excellent hub I would say. It includes all the necessary information required to grow our own herbs. Plus congrats akirchner for your win in daily drawings. You deserve that. Best of luck for more winnings.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for reading, Pamela - without you folks, it all wouldn't be half as much fun writing!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      akirchner, This is a great hub on how to grow herbs. Thanks a lot for such great instructions. Great hub.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Ah Shellie, you crack me up! I think some folks do and some folks don't! If you don't happen to be a gardener, it's okay with me - at least you love mals so you've got it made in MY book!

      drbj - you are so sweet - thanks for the kudos - I guess it is a brain thing - I always laugh and say I'm not very artistic - more AUTISTIC but I'll have to quit saying that if you claim I'm aesthetically pleasing! It must be all those piano and accordion lessons finally paying off!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Your hubs, Audrey, are not only informative but so aesthetically pleasing to the eye. You have the eye of an artist.

      Plants grow "too leggy?" I must remember that.

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 

      8 years ago from Holly, MI

      Am I the only person not doing this? I must start growing some herbs. I feel like the last little girl in gym class again that didn't have a bra with a pink bow to show off in the locker room. lol I am making a point that I will start growing some! Bookmarking this for later!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Sandy!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Nice info on growing your own herbs.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Hello, hello - I totally agree! I live, therefore I cook!

      Alek, thanks so much and mine is a little further away down off the patio on the lower level but it'll do! I love having my own herbs all summer long that I can toss into everything and then love being able to have enough to dry as well.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Good hub...very informative. I have an herb garden on my back deck. It's so nice to have it right near the kitchen door. There' nothin' like fresh herbs to jazz up one's cooking!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Nothing but a good cooked meal. Yoiu certainly added to it.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Thanks as ever Darlene - you are too kind....the fam reunion is here - as always but thankfully I live what I write...cooking and cooking. That is a GREAT thing!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Yes, it is true, I have read both of your hubs LOL...it's time you goes had a family reunion, this is an excellent hub, thank you so much, I am learning a great deal. Thumbs up and useful

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Oh my - I have a feeling you are doing the same thing! Does that mean we cancel each other out? You can't know too much about herbs, right?

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      We are twins who were separated at birth. lol

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