How To Plant An Herb Garden The Easy Way: Getting Started

An Introduction To Herbs

Gardening is a fantastic, relaxing pastime with many practical uses. A growing number of people want to know how to plant an herb garden.

We will look here at just how easy it is to get up and running…

Herbs have for centuries been valued for their culinary and medicinal properties. Grow a selection of wonderful, fresh plants and enhance your cooking while saving money into the bargain. A true win-win.

The definition of an herb is a plant with no woody stem which dies away as the growing season ends. Herbs were previously thought of as a gift from the gods.

As well as being a chef’s dream and helping with health issues, herb gardening is really pretty straightforward. All you need is a little sunshine, some soil that drains nicely, fertilizer or compost and a decent dose of water. Herbs are not often menaced by insects or other pests.

How To Plant An Herb Garden

Herbs can readily be grown in pots but the plants generally prefer to be able to spread. Some herbs can reach heights of 4-6 feet. If they are housed in pots then sometimes they become stressed and stunted.

We will look here, though, at growing in soil and also in pots. Many people have space limitations and for various reasons need to grow indoors.

Advantages Of Indoor And Outdoor Growing

Everyone has different needs, space and climate factors to consider.

All herbs need the same things whether grown indoors or outside. Lots of sunlight, mild temperatures and soil which is prone to draining well. Since most herbs come from the Mediterranean, emulating the conditions found there is sound practice.

Some people want to use a combination of the two methods and grow outside but in containers. That way, when the growing season ends they can be easily moved back indoors.

A quick look at the pros of each method…

Indoors: advantages

Outdoors: advantages

Very easy access

Much higher yields

No need to weed

Better flavor

Can grow year-round

​More space available

Indoor Gardens

If you have wondered when to plant herbs, with an indoor garden the answer is simple: any time!

There are several key elements to think about, notably location, growing medium and water.

​Where?

Location is arguably the most critical factor to your indoor grow.

Herbs demand a minimum of 6 daily hours of sunlight. This can be awkward to achieve in the winter.

There are 3 great options to maximize this:

Plant at the window corner
  • A corner where there are 2 windows
  • Southwest-facing windowsill to get the most light possible
  • Grow lights to boost the natural sunlight

Growing Medium

When growing indoors, growing medium works better than garden soil. Your best bet is an organic growing medium. Opt for one that drains efficiently and is loose enough.

With this stage, either buy a mix or make up your own. If you choose to make one up then here are two easy options:

Soil mix

Combine equal parts sterile topsoil, builder’s sand and compost. You can add an organic fertilizer if you choose. An all-purpose one would be ideal

Soilless mix

Mix up 4-6 parts peat moss with 1 part vermiculite and 1 part perlite. If you want to add nutrients then go for ½ cup of oystershell lime – great for raising pH, canola meal and bone meal for every 8 gallons of your potting mix

Water

wartering for plant

Watering is always a fine balance. Water your plants so that the soil is adequately moist. Take care not to overwater, though, or the roots will rot. Between waterings, allow the top area of the growing medium or soil to dry out totally. Check the levels of moisture on a regular basis.

Soil moisture meters measure the moisture at root level and are very handy accessories.

You should also plant herbs in different containers. At minimum, group together plants with similar watering requirements.

Note: annual herbs (dill, oregano, basil, coriander) can be kicked off indoors then grown all year round. Perennial herbs (thyme, chives, parsley, sage) can easily be started from seed but it’s often simpler to buy young plants instead. Perennials will continue to grow longer than a season. Keeping them in pots outside is fine in the summer. Just take care to bring the herbs inside before the frosts begin.

Outdoor Gardens

​Where?

If you are growing outdoors, location is also critical.

Think first about the number of plants you want to grow along with how much room each of them will require. Calculating space is straightforward.

Look for somewhere in the garden which gets sufficient sunlight. By ensuring at least 6 hours (and up to 8 hours) of daily sunlight, the essential oils which give herbs their delicious taste and smell will develop optimally.

Soil

This varies but there are some constants…

Look for a site with loam soil that’s very well drained. If necessary you can enhance the quality of the existing soil. Use compost, manure or peat moss.

testing for the soil

A kit for testing the quality of soil is a sound investment. You want soil which will drain but also keep both nutrients and moisture in.

The majority of herbs enjoy a soil which borders acidic and neutral. Look for a pH value somewhere between 6 and 7.

To get your planting beds ready, dig into the soil 10-12 inches. Turn it over nicely. Remove all large stones from the area. Chuck in lots of organic matter. Rake over and level off when you’re done.

Water

Again, strike that equilibrium between enough water but not so much that the soil becomes soggy.

Tip: sometimes it pays to give your herbs a quick soaking from time to time rather than constantly watering them. Don’t go over the top, though!

Conclusion

We have looked here at the basics of starting your herb garden, whether indoors or outdoors.

Next week we will look in more detail at seeding and propagation, maintenance and storage.

If you want to know how to care for herbs then come back soon and find out more!

Dianne T. Lampe
 

Hi there, I’m Dianne! Welcome to a one-stop shop for your gardening needs. We aim here to offer up a very wide range of information about many aspects of gardening. From flowers and planting through to vegetables and accessories, find all the information you need here. We have a true passion for everything green. We’re highly motivated to develop this site continuously and offer any insights we can alongside useful facts and handy hints. Please get in touch and let us know what you would like us to cover. Thoughts and feedback are always welcomed. Enjoy!

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