In my herb growing experience, I feel like I have learned more about what not to do, than what I should do! But, in learning how to kill a plant, I have learned how to keep them alive as well as be fruitful. Herbs can be the best part of your garden, so whether you have a garden to grow them in or just a few planters, start today! Here are a few things I've learned along the way and I hope you get your herb garden growing and if you already have one, keep expanding it.
- Good soil with good drainage.
- Keep them close. I've found that the closer your herb garden is to the kitchen, the more it will get used.
- Know your herbs. Herbs don't take much maintenance, so make sure you are properly pruning and also watering them on a good schedule.
- Not pruning enough. With herbs, it's best to harvest, harvest, harvest! You should not let your herbs go to flower ... this is when they stop growing. Each herb has a different place where it should be picked and pruned to allow for continual growth.
- Not watering properly. Make sure you know your soil. Many times you may think your herbs are really dry by looking at the soil, but just under the surface is rich, moist soil. Mulching your herbs helps a lot. It's also good to water just the soil and not the leaves. Watering the leaves can cause mold and mildew.
- Planting in the wrong spot. Most herbs like a lot of sunshine. I like planting my herbs by the kitchen so that I can quickly snip them while I'm cooking. Some herbs, like chives and chamomile, flower and attract bees, I plant these out in the yard. Some herbs, like mint and lemon balm, are very invasive so make sure those are planted in a secluded area so they don't take over other herbs and can grow as the years go by!
- Seed vs Plants. If you're a beginning gardener, buy your herbs. Growing from seed when you don't know what to expect adds a whole new level of detail and difficulty. Baby steps are the key for enjoyment!
What Can I Do With All My Herbs?
- I know this goes without saying, but cook with them! Add a little fresh flavor to every meal.
- Dry or freeze them for future use. I like freezing my chives but I dry the my other herbs. Some people like putting fresh basil and other leafy herbs in ice cube trays and filling the trays with water to freeze them.
- Infuse olive oils. Simply add 1 cup of fresh, chopped herbs in a quart size mason jar. Fill it to the top with olive oil and keep it in a cool dark place for two weeks. After that, strain your herbs out and use the oils all year long!
- Make sauces to can or freeze. I plant a couple basil plants so that I can make pesto for the entire winter. I make a batch every week or two and put it in ice cube trays to freeze so that I have perfect 1 ounce cubes of pesto whenever I need them.
- Add them to your drinks. I love putting basil, mint or lemon balm into my water with a little muddled fruit. It's so bright and refreshing. Another favorite is to make your lemonade with fresh lavender water! Steep lavender in hot water for 5 minutes and cool it down. Then use that water to make your favorite lemonade!
My Favorite Culinary Herbs
|Water properly, preferably not with orange juice!|
- Chives (perennial)
- Lemon Balm (perennial)
- Lovage (perennial)
- Mint (perennial)
- Oregano (perennial)