Herbs are for the most part easy to grow and care for. If you don’t have the space for a proper outdoor herb garden, all you’ll need is a few pots, some starter plants or seeds, and a nice sunny window area. If you have the outdoor space available, a proper outdoor herb garden will really rev up your cooking and provide an ample supply of useful medicinal herbs for your health. It doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment or townhouse like I do, you can grow your herbs anywhere.Here’s a quick guide to get you started on your way to bringing the power of herbs into your home.Prepare the Location
Prepare the Location
Abe Lincoln once said, [su_quote]Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.[/su_quote]
Well, the same is true for any new endeavor. In our case, you’ll want to figure out the best place to grow your herbs. Let’s take a look about both indoor and outdoor herb gardening.
Indoor Herb Gardening
I use a lot of cilantro and basil in my cooking, but don’t have the outdoor space to maintain my own herbs. I also live in the Midwest, and we have some brutal winters. Outdoor herb gardening just isn’t in the cards for me.
As a result, I keep my herbs inside on a small stool near a patio door.
If you decide to grow your herbs inside, you’ll have to be careful to give them enough light in the winter months, but also keep out the cold drafts.
While herbs grow quickly and are quite vigorous, they don’t do well in cold temperatures. Shock frost and blasts of cold air can wilt or kill your herbs. So if you plan on having an indoor herb garden, make sure to keep your plants away from the doors or windows during the winter months.
For light, it’s best to choose a window facing either south or west. Windows facing these directions provide sustained light through the day. During the winter months, you might consider a small grow lamp to make up for the fewer hours of sunlight. Something simple like this will do just fine.
Outdoor Herb Gardening
If you have the space, I highly recommend outdoor herb gardening. My parents live in the country and always make a huge herb garden each year. Although it takes a bit more effort and planning, you’ll get higher yields and the ability to plant a larger variety of herbs.
Herb Garden Size
You’ll have to determine the size of the herb garden that will work for you. For a simple garden that will supply a single family, you’ll only need a space of about twenty feet by four feet.
It’s best to keep the plots between twelve and eighteen inches for each individual herb plant. Some of the more colorful herbs like parsley and basil could be used to add accent to the herb garden. Plant these around the edges for a nice effect. You might want to make a diagram of the herbs for handy reference.
Depending on how many herbs you plant, it might be difficult to tell them apart before they are mature.
Soil Conditions for Growing Herbs
The two most important factors in growing herbs are soil drainage and fertility. In fact, how well your herb garden drains water is arguably the most important factor in the selection of your site.
For herbs to grow well the soil must be dry. If you have trouble keeping the soil dry where you want to plant your herb garden, you’ll have to add some drainage before you plant. Otherwise, your herbs just won’t grow well.
But don’t worry, adding proper drainage is easy. Just dig back the soil about a foot, and pour in three to four inches of crushed stone. You can even gather the stones from around your house or at the side of the road if you’re a cheapskate like me.
Make sure to put some potting soil on top of the stones before you plant your herb, and then just push back the regular top soil.
Fortunately, you don’t need to use a lot of fertilizer to grow great herbs. But if you put a little potting soil under each herb site you’ll have better results.
How to Plant Your Herb Seeds
You can grow almost any herb from seeds, but you should take care not to let certain herbs overtake your planting. Mint for example is highly invasive, and will quickly overrun just about any garden.
Make sure to plant mint in a separate pot, and outside your main planting area. As an alternative, you could embed a pot inside the dirt. But take care to punch a few holes in the bottom first for drainage.
When to Harvest Your Herbs
Many people wonder when they should harvest their herbs. I know this might sound trite, but the trick is to wait until there’s enough leaves to maintain growth. There’s not a cut and dry answer.
You’ll have to experiment a bit and decide how much growth that turns out to be. But herbs are hardy and you probably won’t be in any danger of hurting your herbs if you pick the leaves too soon. You’ll just have some stunted growth for a while.
One note though if you grow your herbs outdoors. You’ll want to harvest the leaves after the dew has evaporated but before the sun has dried them out.
By doing this you’ll ensure that the herb leaves contain the maximum amount of oil and nutrients inside. Both sun and dew can cause vitamins, minerals, and flavorful oils to seep out.
That’s it for this quick guide on setting up your first herb garden. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and tell me what you do differently when growing your herbs.
Source: Growing Herbs in the Home Garden