How to Start an Herb Garden
Herbs can share in any landscaping theme, from the simplest planting at the kitchen doorstep, to elaborate formal designs. Their abundance of shapes, colours and textures offer many possibilities as ground covers, borders and features. When integrated into a vegetable garden as insect-repelling companion plants, or as a beneficial insect attractant, they will be close at hand to season the harvest. Even your patio or deck can be adorned with herbs growing in attractive containers. Here’s what you need to know to start an herb garden.
Selecting and Preparing Your Site
Any well-drained sunny site will please herbs. Most herbs grow best in full sun, although partially shaded sites will also produce a bountiful harvest. Loosen the soil at your selected location and add some worm castings for added nutrients.
Planning Your Space
A little planning can go a long way in achieving a beautiful herb garden. Check the heights of your different varieties and plan to put taller herbs like lavender or basil towards that back. Try alternating leaf types, colours and textures. For example, variegated oregano with its white and green leaves makes an excellent contrast when put beside purple sage or basil. Include flowering herbs like chamomile and pink thyme. Get creative and start an herb garden that’s both beautiful and functional.
Planting Your Herbs
Plant tender herbs after the danger of frost has passed. For best results, harden off your plants first before planting. Hardening is the process of acclimating your plants to the cooler outdoor temperatures before transplanting them into your outdoor garden. Begin by placing your herbs outside, starting with a couple hours a day and gradually increasing the time each day. After five to six days, you can leave your herbs outside overnight. After the hardening process is finished, it’s best to plant them on a cloudy day, and make sure to water them into the soil to help them get established.
Caring for your herb garden
Frequent light spraying is not a good way to water herbs. It is better to water either with a sprinkler or by hand, less frequently, but more thoroughly so that the water penetrates. The joy of growing your own herbs is having them fresh at your fingertips. Most herbs put out new growth at the branch tips, and this is where they should be snipped to encourage bushier growth. Some herbs, like chervil, chives, and parsley, grow from the base, so use older outside leaves first. Remember not to harvest too much until your herb has established good growth.
We hope this article inspires you to start an herb garden and enjoy the benefits of fresh herbs in your own backyard!
Sweet Valley has been supplying potted herbs to the Maritimes since 1997, specializing in the best culinary herbs and patio vegetables.