So, you’ve decided to work with Mother Earth and grow an herb garden, but you don’t know where to start. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! This story will detail the dos and don’ts, tips and tricks, and everything you need to know about herb gardening and take your cooking to the next level!
Outdoors versus Indoors
So, indoors versus outdoors may be less of a debate and more of a matter of space for you – you may not have the space indoors for the garden you want to grow or perhaps you don’t have an outdoor area to call your own. Regardless each area has it benefits and lack thereof.
For indoors, you have the benefits of no weeding needed and the ability to grow all year long. Similarly, the presence of plants indoors has been proven to have a positive effect on the owner. However, because herbs require full sunlight, manoeuvring where to place things may prove difficult. Similarly, this also means that the often messy act of transplanting may have to occur in a space you’d rather not have it.
For outdoors, you have the benefits of more robust, flavorful herbs. Similarly, you will likely have more space to spread things out, depending on where outdoors is for you. However, weeding and dealing with creepy crawly critters will become a regular occurrence, and the growing season is limited.
Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided indoors or outdoors, it’s time to start your garden!
How to start the garden
Once you’ve chosen where to host your garden and found a spot with plenty of sunlight, it’s time to get your hands dirty. First off, choose the herbs that you want, based on what you will use. Lover of Italian food? Basil is a must. Need some calming clarity in your life? Lavender is the way to go. Avid tea drinker? Try peppermint, spearmint, or both. Chives should be a staple in every person’s herb garden as their delicious taste and ease of growing will prove perfect for any diet. Rosemary, thyme, parsley, and cilantro are all great garden choices that you should also consider.
For ease, it is suggested that you purchase already started herbs and transplant them, but if your thumb is as green as they get, feel free to start from seeds.
Plants that play well with each other
After deciding which plants you want, it’s time to consider how you will strategically place them. Whether transplanting or starting from the seed, certain plants play better with some than others.
For example, the likes of mint and parsley enjoy relatively moist soil, yet in stark contrast thyme and rosemary like things to be slightly drier. Check which plants prefer which environments, and arrange accordingly.
Soil: potting mix, garden soil, or completely dirt-free
When it comes to soil, there are a lot of questions to be asked, but we have all the answers!
If you’re gardening in containers, then you’ll want potting soil and mix, which is specifically catered to enclosed spaces. When choosing your containers, you may want to consider recycling old bottles, which Ecophiles already has a guide to! Should you be lucky enough to have the outdoor space and be able to plant in-ground, go with gardening soil.
In both cases, you’ll want to add a small layer, approximately one inch, of compost if you have it or fertilizer if you don’t. Mix in thoroughly to give your plants some much needed nutrients. Similarly, make sure the soil is loose as opposed to harshly packed – this is a necessary step that will prove life or death when it comes to your herbs.
If dirt isn’t your favorite, try the newly popular water-based gardens, which you can either buy a machine for or formulate yourself.
Water grown herbs
To grow herbs in water, first consider the roots. Roots that are used to soil will have a more difficult time growing in water, although it’s not impossible. The easiest transition will be plant specimens that have been propagated from cuttings. If you don’t wish to purchase a machine meant specifically for circulating water to herbs, try reducing, reusing, and recycling! Old mason jars, rinsed plastic bottles, and glassware are all perfect containers for your budding garden. Because roots dislike the light, colored bottles or bottles that are covered will work best.
To begin with your gardening, take herb cuttings and place them in your container of choice. These can even be fresh herbs that you’ve purchased from the grocery store! Trim enough to keep leaves away from water as they may rot or spoil. Change the water once a week. Non-chlorinated water works best, as chlorine proves harmful to the growth of plants.
Herb Garden Hacks
When it comes to drying your herbs, the process is simpler and easier than it seems.When trimming, you’ll want to do so in a way that promotes growth and allows the plant to continue it’s growing. Once you’ve trimmed off the desired amount, remove and bruised or otherwise unwanted leaves. Tie the herbs together at the stems and hang upside down in a dry spot. This is especially important, as areas with lots of moisture may cause mold.
To freeze your herbs for later usage, take the cuttings, chop them and place them in an ice cube tray. Fill the remainder of the space with olive oil. Place in your freezer, and that’s it! You now have fantastically quick and easy starters to every meal. Instead of freezing the herbs individually, try blending and mixing to create an array of delectable flavors.
And that’s it! You now have a lush, stunning garden that will add flavor to your food, and your life!