Using fresh herbs in every day cooking is a fantastic way to boost the flavour of your meals while still getting all the benefits of eating your greens. Planting an herb garden at home couldn’t be easier, allowing you to include them in your favourite recipes without purchasing costly prepackaged herbs from the grocery store. The best part? Fresh herbs can flourish indoors as well as outside, so don’t let a lack of formal outdoor space stop you from planting the garden of your dreams.
What you’ll need to get started
Many herbs need plenty of sun to grow, so select an area to plant your seeds or seedlings that has copious amounts of sunlight throughout the day. Ideally, soil should be well-drained and loose; planters must have holes in the bottom so that excess water can drain out. Make sure the plants will have adequate room to grow and consider how the herbs will interact with each other; herbs that prefer plenty of water shouldn’t be planted with herbs that thrive in very well-drained soil and vice versa. Herbs are available as seeds or seedlings and buying them from a garden centre will give you an opportunity to get planting advice from an expert, including how much sunlight and water the herbs will need. Many fresh herbs prefer dry soil but remember that in general, container gardens will need more water on a regular basis than an outdoor garden.
Herbs that are delicious and easy to grow
Basil is a green leafy herb and should be planted in early May. While it’s possible to grow basil from a seed it’s generally easier to plant basil as a seedling. Basil grows best with lots of time in the sun, once the plant has grown four leaves per stem it’s ready to be harvested.
This piney tasting herb is best planted as a cutting in late spring. The bottom of the cutting should be scraped off before being placed in the soil. Rosemary should be grown in dry well-drained soil and although a hardy plant, it needs plenty of sunshine for optimal growth.
Mint is known for being an incredibly user-friendly herb to grow for those unsure of their green thumbs. Mint thrives when planted in the spring and is notorious for requiring plenty of space to grow as they are runner plants when fully mature. Experiment with spearmint, peppermint, and lemon mint varietals.
Fragrant sage can be grown from either seeds or cuttings, although beginner gardeners will find growing from a cutting easier. Sage plants are small shrubs with soft leaves and need substantial room to grow, they thrive in a sunny environment in well-drained soil.
Thyme has the best chance of success if grown from a seedling or cutting and is a great choice for container gardens. It is crucial for thyme to have very well-draining soil and to be exposed to lots of sunlight.
How to preserve your herbs
Herb gardens can often produce more foliage than can be used at one time. Luckily, there are some techniques for preserving the fruits of your labour.
Herbs can be hung upside down in a dark closet or pantry and then ground up and frozen for future use. Herbs can also be mixed with small amounts of olive oil and then frozen in ice cube trays for convenient use in soups, stews and sauces.