If you’ve ever experienced the sweet fragrance of lavender on a warm summer evening or enjoyed the zesty flavor of fresh basil in a rich spaghetti sauce, you know the value of herbs. If you have ever found yourself in a grocery store, paying a small fortune for two sprigs of dill, you know the value of herbs. If you appreciate the concept of an edible landscape that provides beauty with function, you truly know the value of herbs. One way to put this powerful knowledge to use, is to learn how to grow herbs that you can pick fresh from your garden.
How to Grow Herbs
Of all of the plants one can choose to place in the garden, herbs should always be at the top of the list. Many are extremely low maintenance, drought-tolerant, and easy to grow. Planted as companions to other plants, they can help to deter bad insects and provide year-round beauty to your yard. These wonderful, fragrant plants can be used for cooking, flower arrangements, companion planting, and most even have medicinal uses.
A great way to use herbs is to make them the centre point of your garden or plant in containers or hanging baskets for accents. They also look fabulous in flower arrangements. Herbs are, in essence, weeds, so they do not need to be babied as many other kinds of plants do, making them perfect for any gardener to enjoy.
Most herbs enjoy being planted in full sun. Even in hot climates, full sun is a good choice for herbs. They like the heat and sun, with many equally handling colder climates as well.
When you think of growing herbs, think in terms of perennials and annuals. The following is a list of the most common herbs and what their growing habits are.
Basil loves the heat. Plant in spring and enjoy throughout the summer. It does not tolerate cooler temperatures much, so plant as an annual. Dry what’s left in the garden for winter use. Basil is easy to grow from seed.
Rosemary is a great perennial with many uses. Plant in full sun. It is able to tolerate both heat and cold, even doing well in snow. Rosemary does not grow well from seed, so propagate by cuttings or buy nursery stock.
Grow sage as perennial. It loves full sun and can tolerate temperatures that are quite low/cool. This herb does grow well from seed.
This herb is grown as an annual. It will usually re-seed itself, if let to go to seed. Plant in the full sun in spring. Parsley also grows very well from seed.
Mint is grown as a perennial. This very invasive herb will take over areas of the garden if left uncontrolled, so plant it in an area by itself or in containers. In some regions, it will die back in the cooler months. Mint does not grow well from seed, but can be easily propagated from cuttings or bought from a nursery. It can be planted in partial shade and likes more water than most herbs as it has a wonderful square stem.
Thyme is a fabulous perennial that loves full sun. It tolerates both heat and cold. This slow grower grows well from seed.
Oregano is a great perennial herb. It tolerates both heat and cold. This herb is also quite invasive, so plant in an area by itself or in a container. It is slow to grow from seed. Nursery stock is the best way to start.
Lavender is a perennial that loves full sun. It is very heat tolerant and drought resistant. Does not like to be over-watered or have “wet feet.” It does need some protection in the winter in very cold climates. Being difficult to grow from seed, though it is easy to propagate from cuttings.
This easy to grow herb is grown as a perennial. Usually grown from seed, this drought tolerant herb should be planted in full sun. Garlic chives will have flat leaves, other varieties of chives will have round leaves. They can die back in winter but should return in spring.
Dill is grown as an annual which prefers the cooler weather. It can quickly go to seed during the heat of the summer. Dill is easy to grow from seed.
Cilantro (coriander) is usually grown as an annual that should be planted in full sun. It prefers cooler weather and will go to seed during the heat of the summer.
Because herbs are basically weeds, they require very little care once they are established. Clipping or topping your herbs will help them to grow lush and keep producing new growth. Certain herbs will benefit from being cut back before they flower. Occasionally fertilising with a little fish emulsion will do wonders in keeping your herbs healthy and happy.
Cilantro will grow a thick stem up the middle when it begins to go to flower. Keep cutting it back to encourage leaf growth for as long as possible. Dill and basil should also have their flowers pinched off to help prolong the growth.
There is nothing quite like using fresh herbs from the garden to flavor your favorite dishes. When cooking with fresh herbs, use 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs in place of 1 teaspoon of dried herbs.
For your annual herbs such as Cilantro, dill, or basil, you can dry them for later use. Pick in the early morning when the temperatures are cool. Place on a screen in a dark, dry place with good air circulation. Store your herbs in dark-colored glass containers with screw-on lids.
With little care, you too can enjoy a beautiful garden of abundant herbs when using these how to grow herbs tips. Planning a garden with these easy to grow multi-taskers is one “must-have” for any garden!