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How to Start an Herb Garden

Many of our common herbs grow best in sun. So pick a spot with at least 6 hours of direct sun. Decide how much space you will need, maybe a square foot per plant. This is just a guide to start with, some herbs are small, and some grow quickly and need to be contained.

Next you will want to prepare the soil. If there is grass growing in the space you’ve chosen, kill it. You can do this by covering it for a period of time until it is obviously dead. Then proceed to amend the soil with compost and/or sphagnum moss. Add some coarse sand. If you are planning a raised bed, you can cover the ground with cardboard and put a prepared soil mix on top. This will give you a well-drained soil that is appropriate for growing many herbs.

Some easy to grow and popular herbs are parsley, chives, oregano, rosemary, and basil. Following are some notes on each one.

PARSLEY is a biennial, which means it sprouts from seed, grows one year. It will most likely stay green through the winter, and start growing again the second year. In early summer it will start to shoot up a flower (a seed head) after which the plant dies. You may want to grow it from seed, or buy a pot with several seedlings. If you grow it from seed the instructions on the packet often say to soak these seeds overnight in warm water before planting, be sure to follow these instructions. If you buy the plant at the store, take it home and divide the seedlings to plant out.

BASIL is an annual. It can be grown from seed, grows one year and dies. Starter plants are also available at your local nursery.

CHIVES can also be seeded or bought at the store. Plant it out, it will come back every year. It is a perennial, no need to replant this one.

OREGANO can be seeded or bought as a starter plant. Once established it will spread from the roots. While this may appear to die in the winter, it will come back from the roots each year.

ROSEMARY is a small shrub. Once planted, it only requires some cutting back to keep fresh new growth coming.

These five herbs are only a start for your herb garden. There are many more great herbs you may wish to try.

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