Growing a herb garden is a great way to start growing your own food. A culinary herb garden is a nice addition to all homes. The ability to step outside the door and clip fresh herbs for cooking is amazing. Even if you don’t have space in your yard, you can still use these tips for planning a culinary herb garden in pots.
Planning A Herb Garden
With warm weather settling itself into a new season, gardening is on the minds of many who crave the outdoors. It’s the perfect time to plan and construct an outdoor herb garden.
To help with your planning, you may want to consider taking notes and mapping out your plans for your herb garden in this printable Gardening Journal.
In a Garden
When planning a new garden, there are plenty of things to keep in mind. For example, the time of the year in regards to the area you live in, and the location and needs of the plants. I would advise planning your garden close to a door, where you can grab the fresh herbs you need relatively quickly. Having easy access to the herbs should be as easy as using the dried herbs from the pantry.
The best location would also be somewhere, you can easily find the herbs that you need. Some herbs can be used decoratively, though when placed among flowers or along a border, the herb could be missed or forgotten. Consider the space that your yard will allow for an outdoor garden, as well as the elevation and pockets in your yard that would be best to situate it.
Measure different spaces around the yard, away from shade trees, and track the sun’s movement in that spot to make sure there will be at least five hours of full sun in that spot each day.
The next item to consider when planning a location for the herb garden is to try to find a place that receives full sun. Herbs need the sun to grow more dense leaves and a lovely, rich flavour. If grown in too much shade, the growth will be leggy and weak. Since most of the plant’s energy is being used trying to reach the sun, the flavours of these herbs will not be as nice.
After the location has been chosen, it is time to consider the soil. Like most other plants, herbs enjoy rich, loose soil with good drainage. Work the soil with gardening rakes or spades until the soil is broken up into small particles.
Once the soil is ready, begin by making a list of herbs that you use on a regular basis and that you’d like to grow. Whether it’s an Italian herb garden or a salsa garden, choose the plants wisely because they will crave your diligent care and attention. Find out if the plants will do well in your area and how they much produce throughout their growing season.
Some delicious herbs that can be included in your garden are:
- Basil is a great companion to parsley and oregano
- Rosemary, Sage and Thyme grow well together
- Peppermint or Spearmint – these do not get on well with parsley, so plant away from each other, in the opposite ends of the garden
- Lemon Balm
- Dill – this herb grows well next to lettuces.
Just make sure to check the herbs before you plant them. Mint, oregano and marjoram are plants that spread easily and can get out of control rather quickly if proper care is not taken. They are usually better grown in separate pots. After placing them in the pots, the pots can then be placed in the ground, if desired. You will still need to make sure the trailers from these plants do not overreach the edge of the pot, or they will take root quickly and spread.
Raised Bed Gardens and Pots
First, gather up the materials necessary for the raised bed garden, including timbers, pegs, compost, mulch and topsoil. You can also purchased pre-made beds from hardware stores if that is easier for you.
After measuring out and clearing out the space in the yard for the beds, uproot all pieces of grass, weeds, and other plants that are in the space. Make sure to leave no excess roots, digging several inches down into the soil. Place your garden beds and stake in the ground if needed.
Line the inside of the garden bed with fabric such as canvas or burlap, garden bed liners, weed mat and cardboard. Then fill the beds with enough topsoil and compost to fill in the area to the edges of the beds. Mix the topsoil and compost, breaking down the clumps and combining them both well.
Measure out the space for plants around the areas that you have chosen, leaving enough inches in between each plant to provide room to grow, especially for plants that will vine. Dig individual holes down into the topsoil, compost and ground soil, and place each plant into the ground, covering loosely with dirt and mulch, then water with a liquid fertiliser.
Caring for your Herb Garden
After planting the herbs, mulch may be applied over the growing season. Mulch helps maintain the moisture level of the soil and helps to keep unwanted weeds from sprouting up around the plants. The mulch does not need to be anything fancier than shredded leaves. As the leaves decay, they place nutrients into the soil.
Try to avoid over-fertilising herbs. If the fertiliser is applied about every six weeks or if it is weakened by adding water, the scent and flavor of the herbs will be more concentrated. Watch the plants; if they are not growing or are stunted, they may need more food or they could be water-logged.
Try not to use pesticides unless it is absolutely necessary. Remember, these herbs will be used in cooking, so they will be consumed. It would take quite a bit of washing to get the chemical traces off. While washing, some of the essential oils of the plant, which give it flavour, are also be removed.
Annual herbs are not as expensive as perennials. Annuals also grow easily from seeds. Perennials will do better in the garden if they are started from bedding plants or if they begin as cuttings from friends or neighbors.
With just a little work and care, a culinary herb garden will enrich your cooking and your lives. I encourage you to have a go at planning and growing your own herb garden from which you will benefit of throughout the year.