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Growing Herbs Indoor and Outdoor

Updated on October 27, 2016

Advantages of Growing Your Own Herbs

Fresh herbs are very expensive, and you never really know what kind of chemicals they have been exposed to. Growing your own assures you a fresh supply of herbs, being in control of how organic they really are, and you can take advantage of their colors, textures, and scrumptious smells to beautify your lawn or home.

While we all associate herbs to culinary uses and appreciate herbs for their flavorful, aromatic, or medicinal qualities to enhance food flavors, their uses extend beyond the kitchen, to flower arrangements, potpourris, soaps, cosmetic dyes and insect repellents.

Fresh Herbs from the Garden
Fresh Herbs from the Garden | Source

Finding the Best Spot for Your Herb Garden

The first step to start growing your own herbs is finding a suitable spot. Whether you do this while planning your yard layout, or after all has been decided, it’s not so difficult to find a good spot.

Any sunny area can become home for an herb garden, whether it is a potted garden, or a sophisticated garden bed. However, some herbs enjoy partial or even complete shade.

You can mix herbs in flower beds and borders, integrate them in the vegetable garden, grow them in pots, or use them on edging and borders, depending on their size and growth habits.

Potted basil can be taken indoor in winter
Potted basil can be taken indoor in winter | Source

Why Including Herbs in Your Garden Design

  • Having a “kitchen garden” composed of edible plants, both vegetable and herbs close to the house is real handy for last minute additions to meals. The flavor of fresh herbs far surpasses that of dried herbs in food and beverages.
  • Some herbs have pretty flowers that can be enjoyed fresh or dried as well.
  • Leafy herbs add color and texture to thee garden. Many herbs have gray foliage that blends well with other landscape plants and can be used as a buffer between plants. A balance of foliage texture between finely divided and coarse-leafed foliage is also quite attractive.
  • Most herbs are quite resistant plants and don’t need much care, and can easily be grown by people whose thumb is not particularly green.
  • Herbs have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties, like helping with digestion, cold and flu symptoms, nausea, memory loss, anxiety, insomnia, etc.
  • Due to their healing powers, herbs are a great natural remedy and healthy life-style. However, be careful to use them in moderation and consult your doctor before starting a herbal cure on your own, especially in pediatric age or when pregnant.

Chives' pretty lilac flowers are also edible.
Chives' pretty lilac flowers are also edible. | Source

Herbs and Their Light Requirements

Full Sun
Partial Shade
Full Shade
Anise
Angelica
Chervil
Arugula
Bee balm
Gingseng
Basil
Borage
Sweet Cicely
Dill
Calendula
Sweet Wooddruff
Fennel
Catnip
Watercress
Lavender
Chamomile
 
Lemon Verbena
Chives
 
Mint
Horseradish
 
Oregano
Lemon Balm (Melissa)
 
Rosemary
Lovage
 
Sage
Parsley
 
Savory
Saffron
 
Thyme
Sweet Flag
 
 
Tarragon
 
 
Valerian
 
Any sunny area can become home for an herb garden, whether it is a potted garden, or a sophisticated garden bed. However, some herbs do well in partial or even complete shade.

Thyme can spread and become a pretty ground cover

Thyme is an excellent ground cover.
Thyme is an excellent ground cover. | Source

How to Care for Your Herb Garden

  • Watering: many herbs need dry soil to produce their most fragrant and flavorful foliage; always group together herbs that have the same water and light needs. It’s a good idea to have two groups: one sun lover, and one more shade lover.
  • Make sure the soil provide good drainage: excess moisture could facilitate growth of fungi and compromise the aromatic properties.
  • Keep the soil free from weeds and hoe often the surface to keep it aerated.
  • Remove all dry branches, dead leaves and dry flowers.
  • At end of season eliminate all plants that are unhealthy or dead.
  • In spring enrich the soil with organic fertilizer.

Herb Harvesting and Conservation

To use fresh herbs harvest the leaves or flowers as needed.

To dry herbs:

  • Collect them when they are not wet or humid, instead of washing them in water, clean them by rubbing gently with a soft, lint free cloth.
  • Organize the fresh and clean herb branches in small bunches and hang them upside down in a room that is dark, dry, and with a temperature between 68-86 °F.
  • When they are completely dry, you can separate the leaves and flowers from the branches and store them in sealed jars, for future use.

Fresh Herbs grow well on a sunny balcony
Fresh Herbs grow well on a sunny balcony | Source

Herb Garden Indoor in Winter

When you grow herbs in pots outside during summer, many can be brought inside for the winter. Some examples: basil, chives, scented geraniums, lemon verbena, marjoram, parsley, thyme, and rosemary. You can either move the potted plants indoor, or start new plants from seeds, division, or cuttings.

Once you bring herbs indoor, keep them on a sunny windowsill or under fluorescent lights. Let the topsoil dry out before watering. Smaller containers will need to be watered more often than larger ones.

If your home is very dry, prevent the leaves to become yellow and dry by laying the pots on pebble trays filled with water.

The AeroGarden System

You can grow veggies and herbs all year long on your counter-top with an AeroGarden kit. The kit uses a aeroponics method: the roots suspended in air, in a growing chamber with humidity at 100%, where all the nutrients are provided in an efficient way. The soil-free growth is faster and healthier.

The AeroGarden has a built in full spectrum fluorescent light, designed for optimal growth.

© 2012 Robie Benve

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    • Robie Benve profile image
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      Robie Benve 4 years ago from Ohio

      I love having herbs handy all year long, I could not do without my trusted rosemary pot!

      @ Summerberrie and Marcy, thanks a lot for reading and good luck with your herbs, I currently have basil outside and indoor, and the one on the windowsill is doing amazingly well. :)

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

      I need to try to grow herbs again - I haven't gotten the knack of it yet, and the heat where I live makes it difficult to succeed. Very inspiring hub!

    • profile image

      summerberrie 4 years ago

      Loved your herb, garden. Thanks for the winter tips. I'll add some pots to my garden just so I can bring them in during the winter.

    • Robie Benve profile image
      Author

      Robie Benve 4 years ago from Ohio

      Enjoy your herbs, adjkp25 and theframjack. Herbs are a wonderful thing to have in the backyard, and they usually are pretty easy to take care of. The challenging part may be learning all the different uses for them, and sometimes even recognizing what herbs you've got. :)

    • theframjak profile image

      theframjak 4 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks for the very useful article. My wife and I just bought a house that has plenty of different herbs growing in the back yard and we are trying to learn how to care for them.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 4 years ago from Northern California

      We have large rosemary and lavender plants in our yard and my wife uses them for cooking, making something smell better or when she makes soap. We do have a few herbs in the garden too and we love growing them.

      Voted up and useful

    • Robie Benve profile image
      Author

      Robie Benve 5 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Angela and Marcy, a herb garden is a great go-to live pantry to have. Tanks for commenting and green thumbs up to your love for herbs. :)

    • Robie Benve profile image
      Author

      Robie Benve 5 years ago from Ohio

      Hi KevinTimothy, I discovered ginger tea last winter thanks to a Chinese friend. She gave a ginger root to me when I had a bad cold and sinus infection, and I loved it. You are right herbs and plants can be powerful healing tools, I just wanted to add that because they are powerful they should be used with caution as medicines, researching well and maybe asking a doctor because also herbs can have incompatibilities and side effects when used with other medicines.

      Thanks for your comment. :)

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      I have some areas with full sun and a large area with full shade - this is very helpful for me! Thank you for these great ideas on what to do with my patchwork yard! Voted up!

    • Robie Benve profile image
      Author

      Robie Benve 5 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Ariana, apple cider vinegar uh? Very interesting, I love natural remedies for pests and so. I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for reading and your comment. :)

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      I love herbs and attempt to keep them growing year round!

    • KevinTimothy profile image

      Kevin J Timothy 5 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      Few feelings are as gratifying as cultivating your own herbs. There can never be enough information about the importance of growing herbs. They can be so beneficial to your health and it's amazing that most would rather trust in pharmaceuticals. My advice to everyone would be to research ailments and herbs for them. They really work....like ginger.

      The foliage and blooms of ginger will look excellent in landscaping, and the tubers themselves make a powerful (yet delicious) tea. Great for asthmatics, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other ailments.

    • Ariana Phillips profile image

      Ariana Phillips 5 years ago from Utah

      Thanks for the tips. I personally love fresh basil and my family always has at least one or two plants growing in the garden or the kitchen every year. You're right fresh herbs are better than dried ones. As for preparing your soil for planting I've heard that adding a little bit of apple cider vinegar to the ground can help prevent plants from growing parasitic fungus.

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