You can’t beat fresh herbs to add flavor and zest to recipes. They’re also great for natural remedies, and they have other uses around the house. Growing a herb garden is easier than you think, and if you have limited garden space (or none at all) you can still easily grow herbs inside, right on your windowsill. In no time, you’ll have natural fresh herbs–grown at home for much less than you’d pay in the store. And fresh herbs are not only economical, they taste better and give a fresher flavor than dried herbs.
So let’s talk about how to grow a herb garden. You can buy kits at a nursery or home improvement store, and you can even buy them online. Small “flats” of herbs are also sold at nurseries, and for just a few dollars, you can buy a collection of starter plants that will give you a plentiful supply of fresh herbs. It’s also easy to find organic starter plants, so that you know your plants are not treated with insecticides. These plants may require a little extra TLC when growing a herb garden.
The first part of growing a herb garden to to make decisions: what and where? Which herbs will you be using most frequently? Basil is an extremely versatile herb for cooking and quite easy to grow. Rosemary is an aromatic herb than can be used in cooking and beauty products. Cilantro is great if you like Mexican or Thai cuisines, and is extremely hardy. And there are so many others–when thinking about how to grow a herb garden, you may want to try many kinds or just a few.
The next decision is: indoor or outdoor garden? You may want to start small with a few plants inside. Make sure they will get ample light. You’ll ideally want a southern-facing window that provides several hours of sunlight per day. If you don’t have a sunny spot or windowsill, you can still grow herbs outside, even if you only have a small patch of ground to work with.
Soil is important when you are planning on growing a herb garden. You want soil that is not too acidic. Adding lime will neutralize the pH. If you plan to grow a herb garden outside, and you have sandy soil or soil that looks and feels like clay, you’ll probably do best to plant your herbs in container and use a good potting soil. The same goes if you are starting an indoor herb garden.
In general, herbs like damp soil, if their roots get too wet, they won’t thrive. Most don’t have extensive root growth, so they will do well in a small pot or container. You may want to mist the plants ever day, and then water them thoroughly only every so often. If the plants look dry, water them more frequently. If the leaves look yellow, you’re overwatering them.
Most herbs are hardy, so with a little care, they should thrive. You can clip off a few leaves of thyme, basil or rosemary as you need them when cooking. You can also dry the leaves if you find you’ve got more herbs than you need. Your freshly-dried herbs will taste more flavorful than store-bought. if you’re ambitious,you can also make oil from your herbs. This is a great way to economize, as essential oils can be quite pricey. Soak the herbs in a sterilized bottle of virgin olive oil or almond oil. Let the bottle sit in the sun for about a week, then strain the leaves out. Or, if you’d like a flavored olive oil, you can’t beat rosemary-infused olive oil for salads!
So there you go–the basics of growing a herb garden. With just a little effort you’ll have healthy fresh herbs to add to your cooking, right at your fingertips.