remember the extraordinarily high price of fresh herbs in your local
supermarket last summer?
Would you like to save some money and grow your own? It's really
quite easy and all you need is a few seeds and a sunny location.
When you plan your herb garden it is important to decide whether you
will grow your fresh flavorful herbs indoors or outdoors. You also need
to decide which herbs will be the most useful for you and your family.
I like to start my herbs indoors in peat pots and then transplant them
out into the herb garden. It's a good idea to learn as much as you can
about the herbs you plan on growing. You want to keep the taller herbs
in the back and the shorter ones in the front of the garden so they'll
all benefit from the available sun light.
Selecting the herbs
beginning herb gardener five or six different herbs will supply ample
variety for the kitchen. I would recommend beginning with chives, dill,
oregano, sage, basil, and thyme.
These are all herbs with which most of us are familiar. They can be used
with a wide variety of popular dishes.
Chives go well with beef, poultry, fish and salads. Dill is also very
good with salads and especially over salmon. Oregano is known for its
use in pasta dishes and also can be used in soups and salads. Sage is a
favorite over any meat or with most vegetables. Basal goes well with
poultry, fish and try it in your home made coleslaw. Thyme can be used
with poultry, fish, soups, carrots, peas, tomatoes or whatever your
culinary experiments require.
Preparing the soil
To get the most productive plants possible you need a sunny area and
fertile soil. Most of us will need to do a little work to bring the soil
up to an acceptable standard. For a small herb garden this is really not
The addition of organic material, compost and manure is usually all that
is required to reenergize a lackluster soil. Whether your soil is of the
clay type or sandy an increase in the organic material will usually be
sufficient to improve drainage as well
as adding nutrients.
The addition of some compost made of old grass clippings, leaves and
food material as well as some commercially purchased peat will improve
the soil quickly and efficiently. A small amount of sawdust can also be
added to increase the organic make up.
If your soil is extremely hard with a large amount of clay, the addition
of sand as well as the organic material may be necessary.
Herbs can also be planted among your vegetables or flowers. Just be sure
to keep them watered, fed and weeded.
Herbs also do quite well in containers provided they get enough sun. So
if you're limited in garden space consider some containers around your
patio, deck or window sill.
seeds indoors in peat pellets is my favorite method. You can get peat
pellets at your local gardening supply store. They are compressed peat
which when you add water and place a few seeds on them create their own
Place several seeds on each pellet, after they sprout and begin to grow
you can thin the smaller and weaker plants and be assured of vibrant
healthy plant stock.
You can also start seeds by pre-sprouting. To do this you wet a paper
towel place the seeds on it then cover with another wet paper towel.
Place this inside a sealed container or plastic bag and keep in a warm
spot. The seeds should begin to sprout
within a couple of days.
You then can transplant the sprouted seeds into the soil. However by
using the peat pellets you don't have to handle the delicate sprouts.
Herbs can also be purchased as seedlings for little as a dollar per
Keep your herb garden watered and weed free and you'll be enjoying fresh
succulent herbs throughout the summer.
When the recipe calls for a teaspoon of dried herbs you can substitute a
tablespoon of fresh herbs.
It is best to harvest your herbs when they are dry. When harvesting
leaves be sure to take them before the flowers start to bloom if you
When harvesting seeds wait until the seeds begin to fall off the plants.
Herbs that are to be dried just need to have a few sprigs snipped off,
tie them into small bundles and hang them in a cool dry area.
You can also lay
them flat on a racked made of window screen. This allows air to
circulate on all sides of the plants. I recommend the rack method when
Storing your herbs
Dried herbs can be stored in clean dark glass jars with tight fitting
lids. Regular canning jars can be used as well.
If you save the plastic jars that herbs typically come in you can refill
them with your own homegrown herbs, they will already be labeled.
Use and enjoy your homegrown herbs throughout the winter while you plan
your expanded herb garden for next spring.