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How to Successfully Grow Herbs on Your Backyard

Updated on May 6, 2013

The addition of fresh herbs to a recipe can make a tremendous difference in the quality of a dish. Unfortunately, herbs are an expense that does not always fit into our food budgets, especially when purchased fresh. Moreover, fresh herbs do not last long and often go to waste. The good news is that anyone with a little ground at their disposal can afford the luxury of fresh herbs as well as the spontaneity to use them at will.
The resurgence of home gardening and the rediscovery of the joys of cooking with fresh herbs is increasing the interest in herb gardening. Fueled by a desire for self-sufficiency as well as a return to a lifestyle fueled by simpler pleasures, herb gardening is no longer a strictly rural pastime. Suburban and even city residents are finding a way to grow a few of their favorite herbs.
Where to Start
Place your herb garden as close to your kitchen as possible; half of the fun of growing herbs is the convenience of stepping outside and quickly gathering some to add to a dish on the spur of the moment. You should start small, but in an expandable permanent location with lots of sun and well-drained soil. A few members of the herb family need to be segregated due to their tendency to want to crowd out their neighbors. Members of the mint family are notorious for this and can be placed around a building or garage away from the other herbs.
Which Herbs
The natural place to start is with those herbs you are most familiar with from your own cooking experience. From there you can branch out. Although starting from seeds is more economical and gives you a wider range of herbs to choose from, seedlings are easier and provide you with a reward for your efforts more quickly.
If you are new to the world of herbs, consider a specialty herb garden, devoted to Italian cooking or one dedicated to your love of tea (hot or iced). After a few years, and multiple herb beds, you will wonder how you ever got along without fresh herbs.
Annuals or Perennials
Like flowers, some herbs come back year after year while others need planting each year. Naturally, the perennials are more expensive to buy as plants. Start with a mixture of perennials and annuals. Sage is a good perennial for a beginner’s garden, due to its ease of growth and usefulness. In addition to its annual use as an ingredient in your Thanksgiving dressing, it also goes well in pork dishes and lamb dishes.
Regardless of whether you give your herbs their own bed, keep them in containers or intersperse them among other plants around the yard, with their help, you will save money and increase the quality of your life.

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