As you begin the journey to growing more of your own food, you acquire knowledge and skills to make informed decisions regarding how much of the food you use that you intend to grow.
If you are looking to take advantage of the opportunity to grow as much of your own food as possible, consider growing the herbs and spices you need to season the food you prepare.
Having fresh herbs on hand is a great way encourage yourself to cook more at home and experiment with different flavors. These three easy herb gardening tips for beginners help you figure out where to begin the journey of growing your own fragrant, flavorful seasonings that are the perfect compliment to fruits and vegetables picked fresh from your own garden.
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Choosing Your Herbs
When you decide to start an herb garden, the first thing you need to do is to choose the types of herbs to grow. Although you can choose any herbs you want, there are a few things to consider.
First, you want to think about the herbs that are easier to grow, such as basil, chives, dill, lavender and oregano. These herbs are good for beginners because they are simple to grow, even for people who think they have black thumbs.
Plan ahead and know which of these herbs you use – or plan to use – in your recipes. It is so easy to find yourself having difficulty about making decisions when you buy herb plants without a clear goal in mind. They smell so wonderful and it is easy to think “I always have room for just one more plant.”
Instead of starting from seed – especially if you do not have a lot of experience germinating seeds, buy young plants. That way, you don’t have to worry about getting the seeds to germinate or growing the seedling into a plant that is large enough to start harvesting.
Herbs that are usually available as young plants include sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley and mint. Think about the herbs you use most in your cooking right now or plan to use, then start with those. I recommend choosing three to five different herb plants to start with. Learn how to successfully grow those and then expand your herb garden if you wish.
Preparing the Soil
It is important to have a plan of action on whether you want to grow the herbs you select in the ground or in containers. Both options work, so it really depends on the amount of space in your yard plus knowing what you want or need to easily care for and harvest the herbs you grow.
If you are going to plant them in the ground, you should make sure your soil is ready for planting. You want it to be dug and tilled, so that the soil isn’t too compacted. You should have proper drainage in the soil as well. Compost is good to add to the soil to help your herbs grow. Be aware herbs do not need lots of fertilizer or super rich soil. Many herbs thrive in less-than-ideal conditions so don’t over think this.
Herbs do like the soil they are growing in to be weed-free. Use compost, wood chips or some type of weed cloth to help keep the weeds down. Avoid chemical sprays because – after all – you are going to eat the leaves and flowers from these plants.
Be sure to remove any seed packets, garden markers or debris from the planting area before planting.
Consider Using Jars or Containers
Herbs do very well in containers. Many experienced herb gardens scatter herb seeds in a container and wait for them to germinate. This does work, but young plants are much easier to work with and grow faster. Beginning herb gardeners often find it is better to start with plants. This way there is no worrying about identification once germination occurs and also less disappointment should the seeds fail to germinate.
What you need is a good pot or container for keeping the herbs in, from a clay pot to a mason jar. If using a mason jar, make sure it has holes drilled in it for drainage. You do need a special drill bit for drilling glass, ceramic or clay pots. I recommend placing masking tape on the bottom of the container before you start to drill, then drill right through the masking tape. This helps keep the pot from splintering or shattering.
Once you have decided on the container and made sure it has adequate drainage, you need some organic potting soil to put in the container or pot. It is ok to add some organic herb fertilizer. Plants grown in pots have less access to the minerals and nutrients than plants grown in the ground. Every time you water, come of the nutrients in the soil in containers wash out. This is why it is so important to replenish those nutrients with compost or an organic fertilizer.
As long as you know the amount of sun that is required, you can grow container herbs right in your home, close to or on a window sill. This is a great way to grow herbs year-round or grow your own herbs if you live in an apartment or have limited access to an outdoor growing area.
Herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow in part because they are very low maintenance plants so instead of worrying about success you can enjoy the experience of learning how to grow them. They do not require rich soil. They do not require fertilization when grown in the ground and very little fertilization when grown in pots. Most herbs are drought-tolerant and easily handle hot summer temperatures once they are established. Best of all growing and harvesting your own herbs saves money because you no longer need to buy as many herbs at the store.
I highly recommend the following articles:
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Year-Round Gardening
- Common Garden Herbs For An Herbal Medicine Garden
- Early Season Vegetable Garden Ideas
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