So, you’re wanting to start an herb garden? It’s not hard, but looking at Pinterest may tell you otherwise. In fact, some of the “cutest” ideas online will quickly kill your garden by creating root rot, keeping the plants out of the sun, or are incapable of producing enough actual material to cook with. You can, and should, think about the visual aesthetic of your garden, but let’s make sure it lives first. By following a few easy steps, you can make sure your herbs thrive and provide year-round for your kitchen.
6 Practical Tips for Starting and Caring for a Kitchen Herb Garden:
1. Location Location Location
Herbs need two things: a lot of sun and good drainage. Don’t plant in mason jars unless you are really into dead, soggy plants. Use pots with drainage holes or pick a small plot in your yard to let the herbs grow and spread. Mint is a robust outdoor plant and letting rosemary grow into a bush will be both nice to look at and amply provide for your kitchen.
2. Pick your plants.
Keep things practical: don’t plant what you won’t eat. If you never use dill, don’t plant it. If you love cilantro, cultivate it. Here are a couple of plants that are both used most in the kitchen and easy to cultivate:
3. Give them time and space.
You should never harvest more than a third of any herb at a time. Take a little and then let it grow. You may have to wait a while until they are large enough to harvest but nothing tastes better than what you grow.
4. Watch the flowers.
Most herbs, like chives and oregano, produce beautiful flowers. But flowers are the beginning of the end for an herb. If you want to prolong the growth and harvesting season, cut off the flowers when they emerge.
5. Dry herbs for the winter.
Allow space for a large harvest in fall or late summer and dry the herbs in bunches hanging upside down. Once the herb has completely dried, you can crush the leaves and use them all winter long. Lavender is particularly good for this and can be fully harvested all at once.
6. Tend your garden.
There is no such thing as a garden that takes care of itself. Check to make sure your plants are healthy, remove weeds competing for nutrients and water them regularly. Don’t use pesticides on plants you are going to eat. Care for your garden and it will care for you.