© Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Growing a herb garden is a simple way to start gardening; it does not need much space, is fairly easy to grow, and provides you with almost unlimited herbs to cook with.
These are a few things you should consider when setting up your own.
DO find the right spot. Herbs need a lot of sun to grow, so whether you are growing them inside or outside, make sure they are exposed to direct sunlight for at least six hours a day or else they will not grow properly.
DON’T overwater your herbs. Herbs need a fair amount of water, but you shouldn’t water them excessively. A good indicator is the soil, only water the plants until the latter is moist, then regularly check on it, and if a few centimetres of the earth feel dry, it is time to water again. Always check the soil and do not water all your herbs at once, as some plants need less water and overdoing it will damage them. During winter, watering your herbs once a week should be enough, but you need to ramp it up over summer and water almost daily. Usually, the smaller your pot, the more frequently you have to water your herbs. For herbs you grow directly in the ground, rain can be enough, except in times of drought.
DO experiment with herbs you don’t already know. It is tempting to try and grow the herbs you would usually buy, but this is a good opportunity to expand your repertoire and discover new flavours. Even if you end up not liking them, you’ll still have a nice plant in your garden or on your balcony.
DON’T plant certain herbs next to each other. Some plants do not grow well next to each other; for instance, it is not advised to grow mint or oregano next to other herbs as their roots tend to spread, which is damaging to the surrounding plants. However, you can grow them in the same garden as long as you spread them out enough or keep them in separate pots.
DO get the right pots. It is essential to get pots with drainage holes so excess water does not simply sit in the pot. The excess water can cause the roots to rot and prevent your plants from growing. Adding pebbles to the bottom of your pot can also help with excess water. You should also start with relatively large pots, which will give your plants enough space to grow. As your plants grow bigger, you might have to invest in even larger pots to keep your herbs healthy.
DON’T worry if you don’t have a garden. Some herbs grow just as well in pots as in the ground, and you can successfully grow them in- or outside. Keeping them inside has several benefits; for instance, it protects your herbs from the cold, and you will have fresh herbs all year round, no matter the weather. However, certain herbs are more difficult to grow indoors, such as rosemary, so be careful to check before planting them to avoid disappointment.
DO plant similar herbs together. If you have limited space, it is fine to plant certain kinds of herbs next to each other in the same pot. The type of soil they need can be a good indicator when deciding which herbs to plant together. For example, thyme, rosemary, and sage need drier soil, whereas basil, cilantro, or parsley require more water.
DON’T let your herbs grow indefinitely. You have to harvest your herbs regularly so that they keep growing properly. Cutting off flowers and dried leaves will allow the plant to focus its energy on growing leaves and will also improve their taste.
DO get starter plants instead of seeds. Especially if it is your first time growing herbs, starter plants are the better option compared to seeds. Starter plants are already a few weeks old, meaning you won’t have to worry about germination or transferring them into different soil. Therefore, they are a lot easier to keep alive than seeds, and you are more likely to end up with beautiful herbs.