The Art of Herb Gardening

7 Mar

Are you interest in stretching your green thumb this spring? Perhaps a gourmet herb garden is the solution for you. Not only will herb plants fill your home or yard with their lush color and beautiful smells, but cooking with fresh herbs is a great way to give your meals that extra splash of flavor. Here are a few tips to help you get started on your own fresh herb garden, so you and your family can enjoy flavor-enhancing herbs all year long.

Which herbs should I grow?

When deciding on what herbs you’d like to plant in your garden, be sure to consider your favorite meals; you want to make sure you’re growing the right herbs for you. If you’re unsure which herb plant to include then take a look at these chef favorites.

Rosemary – This is a warm climate herb, so if you live in climates with cold winters it’s probably best to grow this plant inside. Rosemary is primarily used in a lot of Mediterranean dishes and nothing beats a rosemary-roasted chicken.

Chives – From the onion family, chives have a similar but milder taste. If you’re a fan of eggs in the morning or a baked potato for dinner chives would make a great addition to your garden.

Thyme – This woody stemmed sweet herb is very popular in French cuisine and pairs well with lamb, chicken and tomatoes. It’s commonly found in stews and sauces.

Mint – You will find mint in two varieties, peppermint and spearmint. Spearmint is milder in flavor and can be used in cooking and even in beverages. Peppermint is nature’s own cure for an upset stomach. 

How do I care for my herbs?

Before you start your herb garden, there are a few things you’re going to want to consider. First is light, because most herb plants will require about 6-8 hours of light. If you find your herbs with long stems and few leaves, this is the tell-tale sign they aren’t getting enough light and are seeking it.  Next is space; most herbs will grow to fill the space you provide, if your garden is relatively small, you will have to prune your herbs more regularly; not only does this stimulate more growth and better harvest, but it will also prevent herbs from crowding out other plants it shares the garden with. Tip: Mint is a super invasive plant; it’s probably best planted in its own container. Lastly, you need to take water and soil into consideration. Most plants will require about an inch of water per week. Also, if you decide to plant your herbs inside, they’ll occasionally require fertilization. To make sure they’re growing in healthy soil, add vegetable potting mix once during mid-growing season.

More care tips.

  • Potted herbs need good drainage, so make sure there is a large hole at the bottom of your plant’s pot and a dish underneath to catch water runoff.
  • If you live in an area with hard winters (below freezing), you need to plant your herbs inside to maintain a healthy garden all year long.
  • Make sure you’re regularly harvesting or pruning your herb garden. This will encourage stronger growth from your plants.
  • Be sure to harvest in the morning, when freshness and fragrance will be at their peak.
  • Make sure you give perennial herbs time off in the fall. You can harvest them all year, but they’ll require some time to prepare for winter.
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