Fresh herbs are a wonderful thing. They can be grown in amended ground or containers; herbs need very little maintenance and can grow just about anywhere.
So if you're looking for a very easy and rewarding hobby to take up, herbs may be perfect for you!
Herbs also emit an amazing aroma while growing, which is another reason it's such a great project to get started with if you've never grown herbs before!
In this article, we'll cover everything from what herbs are best suited for beginners to planting and growing herbs indoors to caring for herbs outside of your home.
This information will help get you started with your new culinary herb-growing hobby!
How to Start a Herb Garden for Beginner
Start by choosing the correct herb for your garden. You'll want herbs native to your area or herbs with similar climates, as these herbs will be easier to grow.
Consider how much time you can commit - herbs don't require daily maintenance, and they are a great project for any beginner.
Next, you'll need a space and containers for the herbs. If you're starting in a small apartment, herbs can grow quite successfully on an indoor windowsill!
Herbs also do well in pots if they've been planted directly into them - this way, when winter rolls around (or even just after harsh weather), they can be moved inside without much fuss at all.
One final note before we move onto planting: Ensure that whatever container you use is large enough for the plant's root system and has drainage holes in the bottom. Good drainage prevents overwatering, which could lead to rot of the plant.
Now that you have your herbs' space ready, it's time to plant! There are a few steps in the process that should be followed for successful and healthy plants.
First things first: choose where you want herbs planted in your garden or home (indoors or out).
If planting herbs indoors, make sure they're getting enough light - lower-light herbs can grow well on windowsills, while herbs like basil will need more sun.
We'll move onto step two now for those of us who live in apartments without outdoor space; if not, read on below about how to care for indoor herbs.
Outdoors herbs should be planted in a sunny location with access to water and fertilizer.
Now for the planting process:
- Prepare enough space (about twice as deep as your herbs are tall) and then add compost, garden soil or potting mix.
- Plant your homegrown herb seedling or transplant in this mixture.
- If growing from seed, sprinkle the herb seeds and press lightly.
- The last step is to add some mulch - straw, wood chips or even old newspaper can work well here! Mulch will help keep weeds out while retaining moisture levels, so the herbs don't dry out too quickly.
Growing Herbs in Containers
Container gardening with herbs is another way to enjoy herbs all year round. For those of us who don't want to create a garden, this can be an excellent alternative - no matter the climate or season!
When choosing herbs for pots, it's important to find herbs that will grow well in the available space. You may want to use herbs like parsley, basil, and rosemary - they can all do well in the container with a little extra care!
The second step is selecting your potting mix or other growing media; herbs in containers can be grown with a soilless mix or even a 50/50 mixture of potting soil and peat moss.
The third step is to choose your container - herbs need at least 12-18 inches when growing in pots.
If you only have limited space on the balcony or patio, then consider using large pots.
The fourth step is to water herbs regularly - herbs need at least an inch of water each week and more in the hotter months, so be sure to check their soil for dryness regularly!
If you notice pests are attacking your herbs, then it's time to take action! Use organic methods like neem oil or insecticidal soap to kill these pests and prevent them from returning.
If you are noticing herbs wilting, then it's time for a watering! Increase your water intake when herbs begin to droop or wilt, as this could be due to lack of moisture rather than heat.
Indoor Herbs for Beginners
Caring for herbs indoors: herbs like basil - my favorite herb and rosemary can thrive with a little pot of soil on your windowsill or in the corner of your kitchen! Basil, Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilis), Chervil/French Parsley, Oregano, Thyme and herbs like lemon balm and mint can be grown in windowsills too.
Just remember to provide these herbs enough light - southern, eastern or western exposure is best.
Growing them outside in a container garden in colder regions, they'll need to be brought inside when temperatures get below 50 degrees (your house becomes a greenhouse at night). It's also important to keep herbs well-watered but not wet.
For outdoor herb growing, two key points must not be forgotten. The first point is soil quality; make sure your garden area drains well, so water doesn't pool around the herbs. The second point is to make sure herbs are well-protected from hungry birds, who will delight in a fresh pot of herbs waiting for your dinner party!
When Should Herbs be Planted?
Herbs like basil, parsley and cilantro are best when planted in spring for a summer harvest. Other herbs can be planted either while the ground is still cold or right after it has warmed up since they adapt to all climates!
Herbs for Full Sun
Herbs that grow in full sun are those herbs that need at least six hours of direct sunlight a day and enjoy the most sunlight.
These herbs tend to be annuals, so you'll have to plant them each year, but many perennials will also do well with this amount of exposure. In addition, these herbs produce more oils which are needed to provide their flavor.
Here are just a few herbs you might enjoy growing outdoors in the sun:
Basil: Basil is an easy plant to grow from seed or seedlings and even cuttings. They also do well in part shade, especially in warm climates.
Lavender: Lavender is the perfect plant to grow indoors or in containers.
Oregano - Oregano thrives in cooler weather and will do well as a houseplant
Thyme: Thyme likes dry climates, so it is best suited for outdoor growing.
Rosemary - Rosemary does not like wet feet and likes to be kept on the dry side.
Mint: Read all about easy-to-grow mint and the different varieties.
Parsley - Italian flat-leaf parsley
Dill - full sun lover. It will grow indoors if near a window where it gets at least 6 hours of sun a day.
Sage - well-drained soil in full sun. This plant is fairly drought tolerant, so do not overwater.
Lavender - a Mediterranean plant and sun lover.
Fennel - can withstand very hot climates.
What Herbs Grow in the Shade?
Whenever we grow plants in the shade, they will attempt to reach for the sun by growing taller and leggy. To keep them healthy, you should pinch off the top to prevent them from becoming leggy and bush out.
When planting herbs, first check the amount of shade in your garden and select those that prefer similar light levels.
Thyme - some thyme varieties will tolerate light shade.
Borage - shade-loving barrage will also grow in full sun in cooler climates.
Basil - basil will bolt in hot weather, so they will enjoy being in the shade in those climates. However, basil also does well in winter in sheltered areas.
Mint - keep mint in containers to prevent them from taking over the whole garden. They do well in light shade.
Oregano - Origanum valgare Aureum - this variety of perennial herb creeping oregano will grow in full sun to light shade.
Chives - in very hot climates, chives will enjoy some shade.
Cilantro - cilantro (like basil) prefers a bit of shade; otherwise, they will bolt in full sun.
Chevil - chevil grows well in light shade, and in very hot climates, it will prefer afternoon shade.
Parsley - full sun to part shade - parsley is a biennial, but I have had parsley last and thrive for more than two years.
Tarragon - tarragon will tolerate afternoon shade.
Harvesting Herbs for Beginners
Start harvesting herbs when they are about to flower or if herbs start showing signs of aging. Harvesting herbs at the right time will help them grow back stronger and healthier.
With perennial herbs, remove about one-third of the growth at any time, and annual herbs can be cut back up to a third of their growth. Then, please give them a light feed of organic seaweed to help with the regrowth.
Plants such as basil will reward you for harvesting to prevent them from bolting and going to seed.
After havesting, dry them out by hanging them by the stems in a cool dark place until dried.
Maintaining a Herb Garden?
It's easy! Just regularly water herbs, provide them with sunshine or artificial light if they are indoors and the temperature is too low.
Keep pests away by keeping plants healthy, which means removing any dead leaves from herbs to prevent fungus. Harvests herbs regularly.
Feed them regularly with a diluted liquid fertilizer such as seaweed or an organic compost tea.
Avoid leaves from touching the ground as this can spread fungus, dirt, or pests to the plant.
Some herbs, such as basil, need more water and can only thrive in warm climates. However, other herbs such as rosemary are resilient to cold weather; they do not require any additional care during the winter months, just a light trimming of the dead leaves now and then.
An herb garden can be fun and easy to maintain; with most herbs being perennial or biennial (meaning they live for two years), there's plenty of time to learn their care requirements.
The first step is determine what type of herb you want to grow and which plants do well in each climate zone, as those are the most critical factors when deciding on a plan.
Once you've figured out that information, consider whether or not there will be enough natural light at all times during the day for the plant(s) that require more sun exposure than others.
The next consideration is the herbs' growth habits. Some herbs grow slowly and will not need lots of care during their first two or three years, while others, like mints, can spread rapidly with a little neglect. Both types are worth growing in an herb garden.