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A lot of people would like to grow their own herbs, but they don’t know where to start. These herb gardening tips for beginners are just what you need to get started on your new gardening project.
Not sure you have a green thumb? Not to worry! Herbs are a great way to get into gardening because they’re low maintenance and easy to grow. You can grow them indoors or outdoors, and they come in a variety of flavors and medicinal properties.
In this post, we’ll give you tips on how to get started with herb gardening, including the easiest herbs for beginners to grow, planting tips, watering tips, and pruning tips. We’ll also give you a list of supplies you’ll need to get started.
So, if you’re ready to start, keep reading for more info on herb gardening for beginners.
Benefits of Growing Your Own Herbs
There are many benefits to harvesting herbs from your own backyard. Not only can you enjoy fresh, flavorful herbs year-round, but you can also save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
Growing herbs also gives you complete control over the growing process, from start to finish. You can choose to grow organic herbs without the use of harmful pesticides or herbicides.
Plus, you can be sure that your herbs are always fresh – there’s nothing like snipping a few sprigs of oregano, lemon balm, or basil right before you need them!
If you’re thinking about starting an herb garden, consider the many benefits of growing your own herbs. You’ll be glad you did!
Herb Gardening For Beginners: The Basics
Now that we’ve talked about the benefits of growing your own herbs, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of herb gardening for beginners. Here are a few things you need to know before you start:
- The best time to plant herbs is in the spring or fall. Which season is best will be based on the herbs you choose as well as your planting zone. (However, some herbs can be grown year-round. CHeck out my post on frost resistant herbs for a winter garden)
- You can grow herbs indoors or outdoors. If you live in a cold climate, then an indoor herb garden is a great option. They won’t be quite as vigorous as they would be outdoors but you should get plenty to use in the occasional recipe. Check out my post on growing a hydroponic herb garden for inspiration.
- Herbs need full sun to partial shade. A spot that gets no sun will not be a particularly great place to plant herbs.
- The soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter. Compost and mulch make for happy herb plants.
- Water your herbs regularly, making sure the soil is evenly moist but not soggy.
- Fertilize your herbs every few weeks with diluted liquid fertilizer.
- When it comes time to harvest your herbs, cut them back by about one-third to encourage new growth.
- Be sure to clean your gardening tools before using them on your herbs to avoid the spread of disease.
- Know your herb before you plant. Understand the growing season, whether it needs alkaline soil, or if the plants prefer full sun. The key to successful herb gardening for beginners is to do your research.
Now that you know the basics of beginners’ herb gardening, let’s talk about some specific tips on how to get started.
Choosing the Right Herbs
One of the most essential aspects of herb gardening for beginners is choosing the right herbs. Not all herbs are created equal, and some are easier to grow than others.
When it comes to choosing which herbs to grow in your garden, there are a few things to consider.
First, think about which herbs you use most often in cooking. These are the best candidates for your herb garden, as you’ll be able to make use of them fresh.
Want to make fresh pasta sauce? Choose basil and oregano. Want to season your own Thanksgiving turkey? Fresh sage is a great herb to grow and it does well in partial sun.
Also, consider which herbs are best suited to your climate. Some herbs need a lot of sun, while others prefer partial shade.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, research each herb’s specific needs in terms of soil type and moisture levels.
With a little bit of planning, you can create an herb garden that will provide you with fresh ingredients for all your favorite recipes.
Types of Herbs
There are many different types of herbs, and each has its own unique flavor and aroma. While the list of herbs is long, they are generally broken down into two categories, with a little bit of overlap between the two.
Some herbs are primarily culinary in nature. (ie, you cook with them) Other herbs are grown more often for their medicinal properties.
Many herbs can be used for both. Growing fresh lavender, for example, means you can make lavender sugar for your scones or make a DIY lavender sleep mask to help you rest more peacefully at night.
Mint is another example of a fresh herb that is both culinary and medicinal. Fresh mint sugar scrubs are a fabulous DIY beauty product. Or use your fresh mint to make homemade mint simple syrup for your next mojito.
Here are a few examples of culinary and medicinal herbs for your backyard herb garden.
Growing a culinary herb garden
Culinary herbs are defined as plants whose leaves, flowers, or seeds are used to flavor food. This includes both fresh and dried herbs.
Some common culinary herbs include:
Most culinary herbs can be used in a number of different dishes, but some are more commonly used in certain recipes and in certain regions of the world. For example, basil is often used in Italian dishes, while mint is often used in desserts or cocktails.
When using most herbs, it is important to remember that a little goes a long way. Dried herbs are more concentrated and therefore should be used sparingly.
When cooking with culinary herbs, it is best to add them towards the end of the cooking process so that their flavor is not overwhelmed by other ingredients.
Medicinal Herb Gardening
Medicinal herbs are plants that are used for medicinal purposes. They can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including headaches, digestive problems, and respiratory infections.
Herbal medicine is one of the oldest forms of healthcare in the world, and it is still used by many people today.
Some of the most popular medicinal herbs include chamomile, lavender, and peppermint. These herbs can be consumed in a variety of ways, including teas, capsules, and tinctures.
When used correctly, medicinal herbs can provide a safe and effective way to treat various health conditions.
Easiest Herbs for Beginners to Grow
If you’re new to herb gardening, you may be wondering which herbs are the easiest to grow. While all herbs require some level of care, there are a few that are more forgiving than others.
Here are 5 of the best herbs for beginners to grow:
Chives are a member of the onion family that can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and salads to potato and egg dishes. They have a mild onion flavor and are also lovely in flower arrangements.
Chives are one of the easiest herbs to grow, making them ideal for both beginning gardeners and those with more experience. Here are a few tips for growing chives:
-Chives prefer full sun but will also do well in partial shade.
-Plant chives in well-drained soil. Add compost or other organic matter to help improve drainage if needed.
-Chives can be direct seeded or started from transplants.
-If starting from seed, sow chives indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. Sow the seeds ¼ inch deep and thin the seedlings to 3 inches apart when they are large enough to handle.
-Set out transplants after all danger of frost has passed. Space young plants 8 inches apart.
-Chives are relatively drought tolerant once they are established, but regular watering during dry periods will improve both their growth and flavor.
-Chive plants will continue to produce for several years with just a minor division every few years to keep them from becoming overcrowded.
Mint is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes, from savory to sweet. If you’re looking to add a bit of minty flavor to your cooking, here’s how to grow your own mint plants.
Mint is relatively easy to grow and can be done in either a pot or in the ground. If you’re growing it in a pot, make sure the pot has several drainage holes.
It likes moist soil, so water it regularly, especially during hot summer days. You can fertilize the plant every few weeks with a liquid fertilizer.
One thing to keep in mind is that some herbs spread and mint is one of them. Plants in the mint family will take over and crowd out other plants if not attended to regularly. Keep that in mind when choosing the best location.
To harvest the mint leaves, cut them back about an inch from the stem. This will encourage new growth. You can also harvest by pinching off the leaves as needed. When storing mint, wrap it in a damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. It should last for up to a week this way.
Oregano is a fragrant herb that is commonly used in Italian and Greek cuisine. But Oregano is not just a delicious addition to your cooking. This hardy herb is also easy to grow, making it a great choice for both beginner and experienced gardeners.
If you’re interested in growing Oregano, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Oregano prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It’s also important to water your plants regularly, as it does not tolerate drought well.
When it comes to planting, you can start oregano from seed or from cuttings. If you choose to start from seed, sow the seeds indoors about eight weeks before the last frost date. Once they’ve germinated, transplant the seedlings outdoors.
If you start with cuttings, simply take a cutting from a healthy plant and root it in potting soil. Just make sure to keep the soil moist until the plant is established.
With proper care, oregano will thrive and provide you with plenty of flavorful leaves to use in your cooking.
Parsley is a popular herb that is used in a variety of dishes, from soups to salads. Growing your own parsley is easy and only requires a few simple steps.
To start, purchase a parsley plant from your local nursery or order seeds online. Parsley prefers a sunny spot but will also do well in partial shade.
Once you have your plant or seeds, find an appropriate spot in your garden and prepare the soil by loosening it with a shovel and adding some compost.
If you are planting a seedling, dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and carefully place the plant in the hole.
Gently pack the soil around the base of the plant. If you are planting seeds, sow them directly in the ground and lightly cover them with soil. Water well and keep the soil moist until germination occurs.
Parsley is not a heavy feeder, so you only need to fertilize every few weeks. An all-purpose fertilizer should be sufficient.
When harvesting parsley, cut about one-third of the way down from the top of the plant. This will encourage new growth. Enjoy your homegrown parsley fresh from the garden!
Rosemary is a fragrant, evergreen herb that is native to the Mediterranean. It is a popular ingredient in many recipes, and it can also be used to make herbal teas and oils.
Rosemary can be grown indoors or out, and it is relatively easy to care for. Here are some tips on how to grow rosemary:
-Choose a location that gets full sun and has well-drained soil. Rosemary does not like wet feet, so make sure the soil drains well.
-Amend the soil with compost or other organic matter to improve drainage and provide nutrients.
-Plant rosemary in the spring, after the last frost date. Space plants 18-24 inches apart.
-Water regularly, especially during dry periods. Rosemary is drought tolerant but will perform better with regular watering.
-Trim plants back periodically to encourage new growth. You can also harvest leaves as needed for cooking or other uses.
When starting your herb garden, it’s a good idea to choose a few of these easier-to-grow options. As you become more comfortable with gardening, you can add more challenging herbs to your collection.
What You’ll Need: Herb Growing Supplies
For your beginner herb garden, there are a few supplies you’ll need to get started. Here’s a basic list of what you’ll need when growing herbs:
-Herb seeds or seedlings
-Soil. If starting from seed, choose a seed starting blend. There are also specific types of soil sold for growing them in pots, raised beds, or growing them in a vegetable garden with other plants.
-Pots or other containers (if growing indoors)
–Grow lights if you plan on starting from seed indoors.
With these supplies on hand, you’re ready to start growing your own herbs!
Getting Started With Your Herb Garden
Now that you know which herbs are easy to grow and you have your gardening supplies, it’s time to get started on your own herb garden.
If you’re new to gardening, here are a few tips to help you get started. Remember, start small. It’s better to have a few well-cared-for plants than a lot of neglected ones.
Pick a Location: Indoor vs Outdoor
If you’re interested in growing your own herbs, you’ll need to choose the right location.
If you’re growing herbs indoors, you’ll need a spot that gets plenty of sunlight. A south-facing window is ideal. You’ll also need to make sure that the windowsill is deep enough to accommodate pots or a small planter box.
If you’re growing herbs outdoors, you’ll need to choose a spot that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. You’ll also want to make sure that the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter.
Most herbs are fairly easy to grow. If you are intimated by a large-scale garden project, just buy small pots of herbs from your local gardening center and put them in a sunny window. Check out my post on the best-smelling herbs to grow indoors if you need inspiration.
Herb Planting Tips
Once you’ve found the perfect location, whether it’s a raised bed or sunny windowsill, you can start growing your own herbs. If you’re planting herbs from seed, sow the seeds in well-drained soil and water regularly.
If you’re planting herb seedlings, dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and carefully place the plant in the hole. Gently pack the soil around the base of the plant.
You don’t necessarily need a dedicated herb garden to grow herbs. Many herbs thrive scattered about vegetable gardens or just tucked in amongst established plants in your landscaping. Plant some edible herbs in your flower beds. Yellow flowers and tasty herbs are a great combination.
Also, keep in mind that there are both annual herbs as well as perennial herbs. Annual herbs like basil and cilantro will need to be replanted each year, while perennial herbs like rosemary and thyme will come back year after year.
To add a bit of confusion to the mix, there is also something called a biennial herb. Biennial herbs, like parsley, need two years to complete their life cycle. In the first year, they focus on growing leaves, and in the second year, they flower and set seed. After flowering and setting seeds, biennial herbs will die.
Water is essential for healthy plant growth, so it’s important to water your herbs regularly.
If you’re growing herbs indoors, make sure to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.
If you’re growing herbs outdoors, water plants deeply and less frequently. Watering deeply encourages roots to grow deeper into the soil, making them more drought tolerant. Aim to water your outdoor herb garden about once a week. Well draining soil is vital to prevent roots from getting waterlogged.
Herbs don’t require a lot of fertilizer, but, depending on your soil conditions, they may benefit if you add organic matter.
The best types of fertilizer to use for herbs are organic options, like compost or manure. You can also use a balanced granular fertilizer, like 10-10-10.
If you’re using chemical fertilizer, be sure to follow the directions on the package carefully. It’s easy to over-fertilize and damage your new plants.
How to prune herbs
Pruning is an important part of herb care. Regular pruning encourages plants to produce more leaves, resulting in a fuller, healthier plant.
To prune herbs, simply snip off the desired amount of leaves with a sharp pair of scissors. For woody herbs like rosemary and thyme, you can also trim back the stems to encourage new growth.
Pruning is best done in the morning before the plants have had a chance to heat up for the day. This helps to prevent stress on the plant and keeps the leaves from wilting.
If you notice flower buds on your plants, pinch them off to encourage new plant growth.
Herb Gardening Tips and Tricks
Here are a few more tips and tricks to help you grow healthy, thriving herbs:
-Start with healthy plants. Healthy plants are less likely to be affected by pests and diseases.
-Give your plants plenty of room to grow. Overcrowding can lead to unhealthy growth and increased pest and disease problems.
-Keep an eye out for pests and diseases. If you notice any problems, address them immediately.
-Harvest your herbs regularly. This will encourage plants to produce more leaves.
-Don’t forget to add some mulch. Mulch helps to retain moisture and keep weeds at bay.
-If you are short on space, consider verticle herb gardening. Spread UP, not OUT!
With these herb gardening tips, you’ll be well on your way to growing your own herbs in no time!
Here are a few herb gardening books you might want to consider reading for further information:
More Herb Gardening Articles
Love these herb gardening tips for beginners? If you would like to learn more about growing your own herb garden, check out Turning the Clock Back for information about growing a medicinal herb garden.
Easy Recipes Using Fresh Herbs
Looking for recipes using fresh herbs? Try a few of these:
Lemon and Thyme salt blend: Great for fresh fish
Basil Pesto: A classic recipe using fresh basil
How to make mint simple syrup: A must-have addition to your mint julep
Most herb plants grow and thrive with very little attention. It’s one reason why I encourage beginner gardeners to plant them, even if they insist they don’t have a green thumb.
I hope these herb gardening tips for beginners encourage you to head out and start planting. And remember, harvest regularly to encourage your plants to thrive!