Growing a home garden for herbs does not mean you have to challenge your capabilities as a gardener. Green thumb or not, a large plot or not, neither matters when It comes to growing fresh herbs. They’re easy to grow, not extremely high maintenance, and accessible. This is a complete guide to know how to grow your own herb garden?
You’re able to pick what you want to grow, save money, and have fresh herbs for each meal of the day. Not only do herbs add flavor and freshness to your meals, but they are easy to grow.
Having a small space dedicated to your own herb garden should be ideal. It is also more convenient to have a garden that is easy to handle. You can grow almost any herb in a container.
However, if you do mix herbs in the same pot, you will have to choose plants with similar growing requirements. As long as you get the conditions of your herbs right, you are going to have a thriving own home herb garden.
This article will walk you through what an herb garden is, the benefits of having herbs grow at home, how to maintain them, and a few choices of the fastest and most conveniently available herbs that you can plant and step by step how to grow your own herb garden.
Things to Keep in Mind for Your Own Herb Garden
Before you decide to grow your herbs, you need to start with a little bit of planning. What herbs are you likely to use the most? Will you grow enough to dry them and store or you’re going to keep a fresh herbs garden? Being new to gardening, you should start small and plan to grow only a handful of your favorite herbs.
Buy fabric containers or small pots to get started. Once you get a hand of growing some, knowing how much of your time they take, you can dedicate some time within the day for their upkeep.
The majority of the herbs are easy to grow, provided they have a source of direct sunlight and well-drained soil—herbs with Mediterranean origins like thyme, rosemary, or oregano thrice with heat and very little water. Parsley, chives, and cilantro can be planted in ordinary garden soil and need less light.
Since most herbs need full sun to choose an in your house or apartment that has the best lighting, planters or containers can become really hot if you live in a dry and hot area, this can harm your plants.
This means you will have to create a schedule or set up an everyday reminder to put the herbs in the shade after some time.
Be careful not to overfertilize your herbs. Most of them don’t need a lot of fertilizer and die if they are overfed. Surprisingly, herbs like thyme and oregano thrive of neglect and can be less aromatic and tasty if given too much food and water.
Benefits of Planting Herbs at Home
As we have established, growing herbs is fairly easy. It is the best type of garden to start with and takes minimal effort. And you get to consume something healthy for yourself.
There is a sense of accomplishment when you see your own herb garden at home thriving and being able to pluck some herbs out and use them for cooking. How satisfying!
Herbs have health benefits as much as they do to enhance flavor in foods.
In general, herbs are popular for building stronger immune systems, detoxifying, helping with common colds, stress, and digestion. They’re used in ayurvedic treatments. A whole section of medicine is dedicated to exploring the health benefits herbs are packing.
Some medicinal herbs include,
- Peppermint: it is used in teas and as essential oils to boost your mood, relieve stress, nausea, and help indigestion.
- Rosemary: It is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation.
- Thyme: is a natural diuretic and helps with respiratory issues. It is high in antioxidants and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
- Chives: used very commonly in foods also improve indigestion and are high in antioxidants. They have excellent antiviral and antibiotic properties.
- Sage: used for its aromatic properties, sage also helps balance cholesterol levels and is rich in antioxidants.
- Dill: It boosts digestions, has ant-bacterial and anti-microbial properties.
- Basil: It is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
- Oregano: It is an immune booster, and has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
While these are easy to purchase in the form of medicinal herbs like tea and tincture, you can also make your own, and it is low effort, a good hobby to have and saves you money.
Growing your herbs mean the potential of learning. Your children or even you alone will benefit from getting to know how to take care of plants, what temperature they require, or something as simple as potting.
It also provides an opportunity for your children to learn how food is grown and the effort it takes. It can also lead to healthy eating habits, not being wasteful, and help them become more environmentally conscious.
Involving children in taking care of the plants can also be a great opportunity for family time and connecting.
Adding herbs to a simple chicken dinner can really enhance the chicken’s flavor, add depth and aroma to your cooking. It takes your dinner up a notch, and your side dishes become the main feature. Each dinner is simply a treat to look forward to.
Herbs add a lot of flavor to recipes, especially herbs like oregano, tarragon, thyme, and basil. You can also add delicious, healthy herbs to marinades, sauces, and soups.
Aromatherapy is based on ancient herbal art that is said to enhance health in many ways. It is a stress reliever, mood enhancer, and successful in treating minor disorders.
You can stimulate your immune system, alleviate digestive problems like constipation, and help in treating respiratory diseases like sinusitis, tonsillitis, and coughs.
Aromatherapy also works to relieve stress-related disorders like insomnia, tension headaches, and sometimes even grief. Herbs like chamomile, lavender, mint, and rosemary are preferred for their relaxing aroma.
People also dry these herbs and use it as potpourri in their houses for fragrance. You can make your own once you grow herbs on your own and have a pleasant smelling home at all times.
How to grow your own herb garden in pots
Whether you’re growing herbs in your balcony or inside your house, all of them need some source of direct sunlight, moderate temperatures, and a soil or potting mix that drains well.
The most important rule to a culinary herb garden is the location you have chosen for it.
Make sure the soil is loose, friable, and healthy. Herbs have coarse roots that benefit from chunky organic matter. The large particles of the soil provide airspaces necessary to keep the plants from drowning.
You should mulch the ground heavily after the herbs have been planted, avoid pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
While that does mean plants don’t get the boost, they would get otherwise through fertilizers, and it takes longer to improve the ground, but it is with the effort. Herbs usually prefer neutral to slightly alkaline soil and compost that can help regulate this.
After you have figured out most of these things, it is time to start potting your herbs at home.
How to grow your own herb garden? Follow the below 6 steps to grow your own herb garden in pots:
Step-1: Select Pots
Almost all pots work for herbs, but a ceramic strawberry one works pretty well because it can be purposed for more than one herb. These pots have several holes around and down the sides and a planting section on top.
If your pot is made from clay, soak it overnight before using it. It prevents it from absorbing most of the water from the soil.
Step-2: Prepare Pots
At the bottom of your pot, keep a small piece of terracotta or screening over the drain hole to prevent the gravel from spilling out. Add 2-3 inches of gravel.
Lay a piece of landscape fabric on top to keep the potting soil from mixing with the gravel. This also prevents the herb roots from growing out the bottom of the pot.
Step-3: Buy or Create your Own Potting Soil
Try not to use the gardening soil you find outside. It does not drain well, and even more, it could have parasites that could make your herbs infected. Instead, you can buy potting soil from a nursery or make your own.
To make your own soil, you will need
- Three parts potting soil
- 1 part compost or aged manure
- 1 part perlite or pumice
Step-4: Fill the pot with potting soil
After you have put in the gravel and landscape fabric, use a tower or gloved hand to fill your pot with potting soil. Keep adding soil until you are 3 inches from the pot’s rim. Pat the soil down with your hands.
Step-5: Dampen the Soil
New soil tends to be drier; it needs to be soaked more often. So, at the start, you will have to water your herbs more regularly until the soil looks generally well soaked. Be sure to mix water with a trowel, so the water distributes evenly throughout the soil.
If your soil becomes compressed because it is wet and falls below the 3 inches from the pot’s rim, adds in more soil to the top.
Step-6: Planting your herb
Dig a hole, its depth and wideness should be according to the size of your plant. Be sure to leave enough room, if you’ve chosen to plant other herbs in the same pot. So, instead of digging a hole right in the middle, dig closer to the edge.
Loosen the herb’s roots with your fingers if they are tightly packed and put the herb into the hole you just made. Fill any gaps and cover the root ball with 1 inch of soil.
Do make sure that the soil level remains the same from the storage container to the newly planted pot. Repeat the process for your other herbs.
How to Maintain the Herb Garden
Congratulations! You now own a small herb garden of your own. Naturally, the next step is taking care of your herb plant. We have just been through a rigorous process of setting up an herb garden, and the effort should not go to waste. Here are some tips that will help you maintain your herb garden so you can reap its benefits!
Fertilizing and Mulching
Herbs grow best in well-drained soil. If you already have alkaline soil, then you can skip this step. Throw a handful of powdered lime and powdered gypsum into every planting hole. On the flip side, if you have extremely sandy ground, add compost and chopped leaves each season.
During spring, build the soil by scratching 3 inches off the compost and manure. If plants look well, you can also give them a drink of diluted fish fertilizer. Do this every two to three weeks.
A lot of fertilizer kills plants, but it can also result in green leaves without fragrance. Make a mulch of bean hulls or woodchips and put a 2-inch layer of it on the ground between the plants to suppress weeds and help preserve soil moisture.
In a colder climate, you should use chopped leaf mulch to protect plants from the winter air.
This is like spring cleaning. Prune and clean up dead stems of last year’s growth on plants. Some perennial herbs become woody or lanky after a few years in the pots.
In spring, try to prune them back to one-third of their length before the new growth. This will encourage a more lush and compact growth as well as foliage and flowers.
This is a technique that all gardeners swear by. If you want to keep your plants lush and bushy, you should regularly pinch 2-3 inches off the tips. If you want your herbs to be leafier, you can pinch off flowers that form.
When you’re transplanting the plant, remove the top two leaves from each plant to encourage root growth.
Containers tend to dry out faster than a garden bed, which means they require more careful water regulation, especially when herbs are set outside where sun and wind speed dry them. Indoor pots require watering every two to three days or when the top inch of the soil feels dry.
Checking the soil conditions daily or every alternate day ensures that the soil contains the correct amount of water. Different herbs have differing water needs, so be careful when you are watering.
If you tend to forget watering your plants, create a drip system to catch any excess water as it drains. Empty the water after each irrigation.
Fastest Growing Herbs
Growing herbs in containers and pots have an advantage; they keep aggressive spreaders like mint and lemon balm, under control. Herbs do not necessarily need full garden beds to thrive, which is why they are so well received as indoor plants.
Some easy to grow herbs are best for container gardening, and we have listed some down for you to choose from when you are embarking on the journey to grow your herbs.
- Basil: An easy to handle summer herb, basil is a warm-weather annual herb that thrives when growing in pots. It requires well-drained soil and a lot of direct sunlight. Basil responds well to frequent harvesting and continues to push out fresh growth when trimmed back.
- Oregano: if left to its own devices, oregano can grow aggressively. Keeping it in a pot is a great way to control that. It is a flavorful herb and grows well in sunny places with well-drained soil.
- Rosemary: A woody shrub that is extremely aromatic, rosemary has needle-like foliage that adds a depth of flavor to our foods. If you grow it in a pot, be sure to put it in front of a windowsill only after the day starts to cool down. They grow pretty easily on the edges of pots and planters as the herb tends to cascade down. Don’t water rosemary too much as that can be the quickest way to kill the plant.
- Mint: Mint is also an aggressive grower, and well-controlled in a pot. It gives off a pleasing scent when kept inside the house. Mint appreciates ample moisture and rich soil. Using two-thirds of potting soil to one-third compost mixture works very well for mint containers.
How to prepare soil for herb garden
Preparing the soil to grow herbs is the most important. There are a few factors that need to be kept in mind before beginning.
- The soil needs to drain well – herbs like the soil moist but cannot stand saturated soil.
- The potting mix needs to be clumpy and not clay-like in consistency – the roots need space to breathe.
- Adding limestone to the potting mix is a good idea as it balances the PH level of the soil.
- Add compost and fertilizers to help herbs gain the nutrients required to grow.
- If you are planting more than one variant together, make sure they are compatible.
While planting herbs whatever the method, getting the potting mix right is the most important. When plants grow in a garden in the ground it is easier for them to manoeuvre the roots around and scout for nutrients.
The insect’s aid in this process by burrowing and loosening the soil. When the same soil is used in a pot it becomes more compact making it difficult for the roots to grow freely.
To make it simpler for the plants to grow the soil needs to be light and hence a potting mix is a good option when planting indoors. Potting mixes are available at the local nursery or can be bought off the internet.
These have all the ingredients required and can be used right away but if you choose to skip purchasing a mix and doing it yourself, here is a recipe for the best potting mix for herbs.
Herbs need a lot of drainage, they need soil that will hold in enough moisture to keep them hydrated and drain out the rest. Hence, if the soil is sandy it will rot the herbs.
Another important point to consider is that herbs do not like a lot of compost. So, we need to limit its use but at the same time have enough to provide nutrition.
For this take a mixture of compost and garden soil. This combination works best as it gives the plant enough nutrients and the soil also retains moisture. 3 parts of this mixture will be good as the first ingredient for the potting mix.
Once the compost and soil are ready, a draining agent needs to be added so that the water can move out easily. The best-draining agents are choir, coco peat, gravel, or small pieces of a broken earthen pot. Take 2 parts of whatever you have available and add it to the compost mix.
With all these additions the PH level of the soil wavers and hence to bring that under control add 1 part of limestone to the mix.
Once you have all the ingredients combine them together and add water. The consistency you are looking for is something that clumps up but breaks easily as soon it is lifted. If the mix is too slushy or remains soggy add another part of the draining agent.
Fertilizers that are soluble in water can be used. These can be purchased at a local nursery. Look for a slow-release variant that takes it time to add nutrition to the soil.
Compost keeps your plants healthy and provides the necessary nutrients to the soil. The best thing about compost is that it can be made at home and does not require any special purchases. Simply put aside kitchen waste and in a few day, you have compost ready to use.
Here is a list of things that can be added to compost
- Vegetable and fruit scraps
- Coffee grounds
- Shredded paper
- Egg shells etc
Note: Be careful not to add anything that is oily, fatty, diseased plants or dairy products. Onions and Garlic repel worms and hence they may slow the composting process.
How to prepare compost
The longer compost sits the better it gets. To prepare compost at home take a pot of soil and set it aside preferably in a place that is away from the kitchen as it may stir up odour over time.
In this pot you can add kitchen waste daily keeping in mind what not to add. Water it regularly just a sprinkle is good enough to activate the composting process.
Stir up the mix from time to time to promote even composting. Over a period of 3 to 4 weeks, the compost will be ready for use.
Note: keep the pot covered as sunlight hampers the process.
Watering is very important to prepare soil for an herb garden.
Herbs like moist soil but cannot stand overwatering and soggy soil. To combat this problem, it is necessary to pay attention to the watering technique used. We recommend the slow watering technique where water is poured slowly instead of dunking it in all at once. This reduces the chance of overwatering the plants.
The amount of water depends on the herbs planted, for example, mint, parsley, and lovage-like soil that is fairly moist whereas herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage prefer only slightly moist soil.
Adding fertilizers to the soil is important to ensure that they receive the required nutrients. Herbs may not require much fertilization although it is a good idea to fertilize the soil once in a while.
As plants grow, they suck out all the nutrients from the soil, and in order to replenish this fertilization is required. Opt for liquid fertilizers as they are easier to absorb. You can also use the slow-release crystal variants available at local nurseries.
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To grow your own herb garden does not require a lot of investment. Rather whatever is invested is returned tenfold through the growth. Easy to grow herbs are abundant in the nurseries and are quite cheap to buy and pot. You are bound to end up with some fresh herbs for yourself after minimal effort into creating what is perhaps the most beneficial indoor garden you will encounter. I hope you like the step-by-step guide on how to grow your own herb garden.
I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
I am sharing all the practical tips on how to grow various plants, flower plants, vegetables in the garden. Read more about me.