Growing your own herbs is a great starting point for gardeners looking to grow your own food. They’re easy to pick up, relatively simple to grow and make for a fine tasting garnish on your food. We hope that by the end of this article you’ll know how to start growing herbs and be confident enough to get going.
Decide Where you Will Grow your Herbs.
You can use a pot on a window, a window box, containers in the garden or the ground. There is an advantage in using containers, as it means less weeding. If you are using the ground, ensure that you clear the area of weeds before you plant.
Many herb growers argue that the herb garden should be near the kitchen door so that you can go to it and quickly get what you want. For some growers, a raised herb bed makes an attractive addition to a patio. An arrangement of herb pots can be a great ornamental addition to your garden.
Select The Herbs That You Want To Grow
The choice is yours, but it is better to grow a small amount of many herbs than to have a surplus of a few. Some herbs, such as chives, are perennial, which means that they die back every winter and are renewed in spring. It is better to keep perennials in their own bed. Other herbs, such as mustard, are annuals, growing every year from seed. Some, e.g.parsley, are biennials, which have a two-year cycle. Buy in the seedlings of these plants and treat as annuals. If you can’t decide which herbs you should grow, we’ve written a post with some of our favorite herbs for growing at home.
Get the Right Containers For Herbs
Most herbs can grow in pots, but some have their own needs and issues. Mint is prolific, and if you sow it in the garden, you need barriers to stop it getting everywhere. Some growers use an upturned, bottomless bucket part buried in the soil, which impedes the spread of the roots.
Large herbs such as fennel need either a huge container or to be grown in the ground. Borage does not spread by roots, but it is prolific, and you will find it popping up at spots in your garden. Horseradish is an herb with an edible root, but as it can grow tall, it needs enough depth of container for a strong root system to develop; otherwise, it might topple in the wind. Mustard and cress grow well in trays on a base of tissue paper.
Lay out your Herb Garden
Many herb growers use the following technique:
They lay down some landscape fabric on the soil or paved surface and place the pots on top of it. To weigh it down they then cover it with a layer of ornamental stone, such as slate. This creates an attractive area dedicated to herbs. Ensure that it is sited in a sunny place.
Make your Soil Suitable for Herbs.
Herbs like light, well-drained soil. They will grow in ordinary garden soil and need only a little application of liquid fertilizer, so do not over-fertilize, though container-grown herbs need to be monitored for nutritional deficiencies.
If your soil is heavy, dig in perlite or sand.
Sowing and Planting Your Herbs.
Some herbs, such as borage, grow from seeds that you can purchase. Sow sparingly in shallow drills. These types of herb are large, so need room for deep roots to prevent them from toppling. Don’t grow it near small herbs that can be overshadowed.
Many growers purchase seedlings and plant them. They are easy to plant. Just make a small hole wide enough for the root and gently taking the plant by a leaf, lower it into the hole. Adjust so that it is erect, fill in the hole, and firm the seedling in by pressing down the soil on either side with your fingers. Water the soil around the herb with a gentle. A spray gun is a good idea.
Garlic needs to be planted in the autumn or early winter and experience a month of temperatures below 10 degrees for good results. This is called vernalization.
Always try as far as possible to avoid handling seedlings by the stem, as it is vulnerable. If you have to handle them by the stem, make sure to be gentle!
Propagating Your Herbs
Perennial herbs, such as chives, need to be divided every three years. Dig them up and taking the root-ball in your hands, break it into two pieces. Replant the two parts in new soil. You are doing the plant much good by renewing its vigor. When it comes to harvesting herbs, snip off the parts of the herb that you want with sharp secateurs.