Cultivate an Herb Garden
|Nothing kicks your cooking up a notch like growing your own herbs. And it’s amazingly
simple. Whether you plant indoors or out, the tiniest effort can produce a burst of tasty leaves and spicy
seeds that will give your dishes international panache.|| |
| ||For the beginning gardener, herbs are friendly and
incredibly adaptable. To thrive, most herbs simply need a well-lit area, sufficient water and humidity, and
protection from drafts and extreme temperature. Given that, herbs can flourish almost anywhere—in pots, in
vegetable beds, even tucked around flowers as borders. Just be careful not to plant edible herbs near traffic or
they will absorb the pollution.|
The first step in creating your own Cook’s Garden is deciding where to plant.
Grow your herbs indoors and delicious dishes will be a fingertip away. Kitchen window sills exposed to full
sunlight make excellent sites for simple pots or boxes; add flourish by using hanging baskets, adding shelves,
and positioning climbing herbs around the window frame. Plant a culinary spice you most often use—parsley,
chives, thyme—or choose an array. Herbs love to be grouped together to benefit from the humid microclimate they
create. Mints do well indoors because they require less light. And don’t limit yourself to the kitchen. The
right herb can add zest to any room: try a tiny pot of peppermint in the bathroom, calming lavender in the
bedroom, or lemon verbena in the entrance hall.
Balconies & Patios
An herb garden can turn a patio or apartment balcony into a private paradise, but you must maximize the small
space. Think multi-tiered. Use barrels, urns, and troughs on the floor; interlocking pots on the wall, and
creeping vines over the top of trellises and between bricks. If the space receives light only some of the day,
try herbs that require partial shade, like chervil, parsley, sorrel, and mints. In darker spaces, you may want
to use white tiles or a white wall to intensify the light. Roof plants must be protected from the wind with
proper screening: rosemary and lavender are tougher than most herbs, but even they become gnarled in a high
wind. And make sure you anchor everything down—including soil (a topping of gravel chips works wonders).
Planning a garden outdoors takes substantial forethought. Before choosing a site, spend time on the land
watching how the sun falls; a slope receiving direct sunlight for 5-6 hours a day is ideal. Also, mark where
corners are sheltered and soil gets waterlogged. Something else you will want to consider is irrigation—you
might have to install a drip irrigation system to avoid dragging a hose around. Once you pick the site, think
design: formal geometric patterns like a diamond, square, or wheel bed versus an informal profusion of color and
species. Either way, take care that neighboring plants don’t run each other over by considering leaf size,
growth patterns, and need for light and shelter. A reasonable guide that lets Mother Nature take its proper
course is one plant per square foot or ten per square yard.