How To Start Herb Gardening The Easy Way

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Gardening is one of the few activities that allow you to directly see the fruits and flavors of your labor especially when it comes to kitchen herbs. There are so many heirloom herb seeds to choose from with so many ways to use them, from cooking to medicinal to spiritual essential oils. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing your once-barren yard or urban oasis transform into a beautiful, colorful vivacious garden. I find so much satisfaction in growing my own herbs and vegetables the feeling of self-sustainability or the convenience of just walking a few steps to create a fresh healthy evening meal. Heck, you can even dry them for all year round self-sustainability and survival.

Regardless if you’re a beginner, amateur, or professional, there is always something new exciting to do every season and there are so many benefits to gardening not only for yourself but for the planet as well. If your looking to spice things up in the kitchen, a herb garden is a perfect project for just about anyone!

More tips: 10 Amazing Spring Gardening Tips From Bloom To Harvest

How to use herbs

What Is a Herb? How Is It Different From Spices?

Contrary to popular belief, herbs and spices are mutually exclusive. What is the difference between herbs and spices? Though both are used for cooking, the term “herb” actually applies to the leaf of the plant while “spice” can apply to any part that isn’t a leaf. (e.g. bark, root, seed)

While some herb plants are specifically used for their leaves and are considered common, such as rosemary and lavender there are also varieties that have multiple usable elements. For example, coriander leaves and seeds can both be used in the kitchen—in this case, the leaves are the herb and the seeds are the spice.

Herbs and Spices

When Should I Plant an Herb Garden?

The simple answer? It depends.

If sowed from the seed, some varieties will need several weeks to grow indoors before you can move them to your garden. Plan on starting during the winter or at least four to eight weeks before the last spring frost.

Alternatively, some can just be added as a starter once it starts getting warmer. Regardless if you buy your herbs as seeds or starter plants, always be sure to refer to the back of the seed packet or the instructions.

We always recommend starting in the spring. However, depending on the local of your region, some can also be incorporated in autumn. The more heat resistant varieties such as basil and dill also do well in the summer. Even though very few plants can make it through the winter, especially in more frosty regions, keep in mind that you do have the option of repotting. Particularly if they are herbs you use in your everyday cooking, you can choose to move and care for them indoors, and out of the winter chill.

Where to plant a herb garden

Where is the best place to start an herb garden?

NaturezEdge recommendations:

  • Abundant water: Herbs need a lot of water to grow. If this is not possible due to the climate of your region and if you decide to grow indoors instead, they will most likely need more watering compared to your average houseplant.
  • Sunlight: Most varieties need at least six hours of sun per day. However, some herbs such as mint and cilantro can do with less sunlight, or about only three to four hours a day.
  • Well-drained soil: Having potting soil with good drainage allows for water to flow to even the most deeply embedded roots. Without well-drained soil, herbs may grow to be stunted or in failing health it might not be getting the nutrients and care it fully needs. If you’re planting your herbs indoor, confirm that you are using a pot that drains well. Though herbs need a decent amount of water, too much water will only drown it.
  • No exposure: Herbs don’t do well when fully exposed to the elements or in windy areas. Planting your herbs near a wall or in window boxes that can easily be taken into the house will help in preserving the health of your herbs, especially when the weather gets a little too crazy.

Overall, an attractive part of herb gardens is that growing herbs is relatively easy. Even for beginners, there is not much care required on the gardener’s part aside from harvesting and observation of health. However, depending on your space situation and how you want to use your herbs, planting herbs outside may not be the best option. You may actually want to consider planting indoors.

For example, if you frequently use basil while cooking, it may make more sense for you to grow your basil separately in the kitchen from your other herbs. Not only is it more convenient to water, but you can quickly snap off a leaf or two for seasoning!

Once you evaluate your needs, if you do choose to grow your herbs indoors, just make certain to keep the four pointers above in mind.

Additional Info: 10 Amazing Spring Gardening Tips From Bloom To Harvest

How do I start herb garden from the seed?

Let’s say you want to challenge yourself and start from scratch. Starting a herb garden from the seed versus from a starter plant isn’t the same, as the plants’ needs are different because it involves more container gardening.

Typically, when starting from the seed, you want to do this several weeks before the weather starts to warm up. When you sow the seeds, it’s best to do them in large pots as herbs are a bit more difficult to transplant successfully.

For aesthetic or convenience purposes, you can also mix and match your herbs in a large pot as well. For the more flexible herbs, you can sow them in smaller trays before transplanting them.

In terms of soil, avoid using regular garden soil or potting soil. You want to opt for what’s called a seed starting mix. This type of soil is more conducive to encouraging seeds to sprout and grow. Place the seeds directly beneath an artificial growing light. While you can’t fully simulate springtime conditions in your home during the winter, shining a light allows the plants to become stronger before you transplant them.

You also shouldn’t hesitate in using a fertilizer spray to provide extra nutrients for your growing plants. While you don’t have to spray them every day, we suggest starting lightly spraying them one week after your plants start to sprout. If you want to speed up germination, you can also place the tray/pot in a warm room with a heating pad beneath it. However, do not place the seeds in direct sunlight.

Once the weather starts to warm up and your plants are sturdier, you can transplant them. If you are transplanting your plants from a pot, be sure to squeeze the plant out from the sides of the pot if possible. The less damage and stress the roots receive, the more smooth the transplant will go. Be sure to add a layer of potting soil to the base of the to reinforce it.

What are some herbs I should include in my garden?

Perhaps the most difficult part of growing herbs is choosing which plants to include in the first place. When choosing which herbs to grow sure to consider the season, the location of your garden as well as the amount of sunlight it gets. While there are dozens and dozens of herb varieties out there here is a list of the six of the easiest varieties to grow and can be used daily.

Basil

1. Basil -Essential for homemade pesto and the darling of Italian dishes, basil is one of the most versatile herbs to grow. Compared to other herbs, basil is hardy and requires warm temperatures and warm soil to grow. For a bountiful harvest, grow in the summer.

Bee Balm

2. Bee balm- Bee balm is more of a medicinal herb and can be used to treat scrapes, cuts, and stings. You can also use it for coughs and menstrual cramps. Furthermore, it’s popular with bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, and is considered a great flower for attracting pollinators. Make sure to grow in full sunshine and during more temperate seasons such as spring or fall.

Parsely

3. Parsley-Considered a slow starter, parsley is best sowed indoors before introduced to the garden. These plants can withstand colder temperatures so feel free to transplant them three to four weeks before the last spring frost. You can harvest parsley once its leaves have three segments.

How To Start Herb Gardening The Easy Way

3. Parsley-Considered a slow starter, parsley is best sowed indoors before introduced to the garden. These plants can withstand colder temperatures so feel free to transplant them three to four weeks before the last spring frost. You can harvest parsley once its leaves have three segments.

Rosemary

3. Parsley-Considered a slow starter, parsley is best sowed indoors before introduced to the garden. These plants can withstand colder temperatures so feel free to transplant them three to four weeks before the last spring frost. You can harvest parsley once its leaves have three segments.

How To Start Herb Gardening The Easy Way

3. Parsley-Considered a slow starter, parsley is best sowed indoors before introduced to the garden. These plants can withstand colder temperatures so feel free to transplant them three to four weeks before the last spring frost. You can harvest parsley once its leaves have three segments.

What are a few herb gardening tips to keep in mind?
Before you start to grow herbs, here are four essential tips to consider!

1. Harvest Frequently and Wisely

Harvesting is an important part of maintaining healthy herbs. By harvesting, you are giving the plant more room and space to grow. However, that doesn’t mean you should be picking off every leaf from your plants—often the older and wider leaves play a larger role in collecting sunlight. If possible, you want to collect from the top of the plant, or at least trim it once in a while.

2. Watch Out for Eager Growers

A few herbs like mint and oregano are known for being aggressive plants. Once planted, they have a tendency to rapidly grow. Do the other flowers in your yard favor and restrain the scope of growth for these plants.

3. Track the Growth of Your Plants

While this may sound like a school project, some gardeners suggest keeping a gardening journal to record your plant’s progress. Not only do you have a written record of your plant’s growth, but it also forces you to check on your plant’s health consistently.

4. Have fun!

Take a deep breath, bask in the sunshine, and relax! the most important aspect is enjoying the process.

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