4 Easy Steps to Create Your Home Herb Garden
Article by Jaylyn Huson
Benefits of A Home Herb Garden
As a child I discovered my Grandfather’s home herb garden, which also contained flowers, fruit, and vegetables. This was my Grandfather’s pride and joy. His free time was spent carefully and lovingly maintaining it. I would sit quietly and watch him and occasionally ask why he was doing something in a particular manner and why he didn’t use the same method for each plant.
The Fargo Forum Newspaper would write an article and take pictures of his gardening showplace every summer. Friends, neighbors, as well as strangers would come to visit his domain.
It wasn’t until years later when I decided to have a home herb garden that it suddenly dawned on me that I had absorbed everything my Grandfather did as I would sit and patiently observe. My mind stored all of those mental images for my later use. How wonderful it was to realize I actually knew a little bit about the why, how, and what I was or should be doing.
It was then I that I also realized the many benefits a home herb garden offers:
The aromatic scents flooding your sensesThe joy and beauty of the herb plants and their flowers and foliageHarvesting herbs to use in your cookingHaving medicinal remedies on handBirds, butterflies, and wildlife take up residence in your gardenRelaxing, Fun, Rewarding, and Great ExerciseThis enabled me to delve full speed ahead into learning about growing herbs, their classifications, using them, their medicinal properties, and eventually helping and teaching others about having a home herb garden.My herb gardens are now my domain and have become a showplace for others to wonder in, learn about companion gardening, Cottage gardens, new techniques, and delight in all of their qualities.
Last summer I happened upon a small, old-world outdoor vintage shop with an array of antique gardening items. The beautiful green sea of grass with flowerbeds had been partitioned off for different vignettes. As we strolled through it, she commented that she wanted to grow herbs in her one of the terraces and asked for advice of what to cultivate. The terrace was a maze of stepping-stones intermixed with Columbine, Jacob’s Ladder, Lady’s Mantle, Scented Geraniums, and Thyme. It was a beautiful herb garden!
The former owner had planted what she described as this strange combination of flowers with Thyme. She wanted to rip out everything except for the Thyme and put in herbs. I asked her what kind of herbs and she didn’t know, but wanted something ornamental with flowers.
She along with many others do not know that a lot of flowers are actually herbs. She knew Thyme was an herb, and thought the other plants were just flowers. She also was amazed to find out that the Dandelions and Plantain are herbs.
I looked up and noticed we had attracted a small group who were listening and also had questions as to what the flowers were and what they should do if they wanted to have their own home herb garden.
What were the flowers that were herbs?
Jacob’s Ladder also known as Greek Valerian is an ornamental perennial and is also culinary as the flowers are edible and delicious in salads.
The Lady’s Mantle is a medicinal and ornamental perennial herb.
Columbine is an ornamental perennial herb. It was once used for its medicinal properties.
Scented Geranium is beautiful and belongs to all four classes of herbs: culinary for the flowers and leaves, leaf is aromatic and medicinal, and the entire plant is ornamental.
Thyme, a creeping variety for ground cover between the stepping stone, was aromatic, ornamental, medicinal, and yes culinary.
This combination made up a beautiful herb garden and contained the four major classes of herbs. She decided she would leave it alone, stating, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
Growing herbs are just like growing flowers and vegetables; some herbs are also flowers and vegetables. Herbs can be grown in the flowerbeds or vegetable beds or beds by themselves or even planters in the event you don’t have room for an actual herb garden. Herbs, flowers, and vegetables intermingled in one garden bed is a Cottage Garden.
No space or you just don’t want to spend more than 5 to 10 minutes gardening every few days then try growing herbs indoors, its just as easy as growing houseplants. You have the benefits of having a home herb garden.
Step One: Decide which herbs you want to grow, based on the main four classes of herbs:
CulinaryAromaticOrnamentalMedicinal Each class comprises annuals, perennials, biennials, evergreens, and shrubs. Check with your local county extension office to see which herbs will do best in your climate.
Begin with a few major herbs in the event you are unsure of which ones to sample. The following are forgiving and easy to grow: basil, calendulas, catnip, chives, chamomile, garlic, lemon balm, nasturians, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, or thyme.
Step Two: Select an area that receives a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight in the morning and filtered light in the afternoon. Tall plants can provide shade for shorter plants. Several herbs need that much sunlight so they can thrive and develop their essential oils and lush foliage.
Take a look at the requirements of the herbs and other plants and select your location based on their needs.
Basic Location Requirements for Outdoor Herb Gardens:
Minimum of 6 hours of sunlightAfternoon filtered lightWell-drained soilAccess to water (dragging a hose 200 feet can be tiresome)Step Three: Deciding which herbs will be planted in which areas of the selected garden area. Based on the herbs requirements:Full SunPartial SunShadeMoist area Completely Dry areaPlants growing next to itSun-loving herbs that need more sun than the area provides, can be planted in a garden bed that received the most sun and other plants won’t shade it or in a container where it will get plenty of sun. If using a large container use a plant dolly or roller stands under it, making it easy to move around.
Step Four: Deciding whether to start your herbs from seeds or to plant starts.
I prefer to start seeds and watch them grow from a seed to a beautiful mature plant. Seeds can be started indoors under lights in late winter or about 8 weeks before the last frost. Seeds can also be sown directly into the ground after the last frost when the ground is warm.
Herbs, like the majority of plants need light to germinate. Some can be sown with just a thin layer of soil or the potting medium covering them, others need just a sprinkling over them, and some lay on top of the soil without a covering. The rule of thumb is the finer the seed, the shallower they need to be sown. Use fertilizer if the herbs are transplanted and in moderation.
Home herb gardening is relaxing, fun, and rewarding! The most inexperienced person, as well as those who may consider themselves having a ‘black’ thumb can grow herb as they are hardy and easy to grow.
The best tip I can give you is: Research. Once you have decided which herbs you want to grow, do a little research on them, find out what their requirements are and make a list of questions to ask. Then talk with other gardeners, your local extension office or a nursery. They can tell you what grows best in your area and guide you with the right variety of the herbs you have selected.
Through this article I hope you have gained a new perspective of herb gardening and that you will consider creating one of your own.
Happy Gardening and experiment with new herbs and ideas!
Jaylyn is a herb garden enthusiast and enjoys helping others learn about growing and using herbs.
About the Author
Jaylyn Huson grew up in a family of gardeners. Her gardening experience began at an early age watching her Grandfather tend to his gardens. Her education continued by learning from and helping her parents in the family garden and then with her husband. For indepth information on growing and using herbs as well as a free 12 part mini-course please visit: Home Herb Garden Answers.
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