How to Start the Ultimate Herb Garden

With Spring coming in full force, it is the perfect time to start an herb garden. An herb garden is simple to make and rewarding for months to come. There are just a few thing to keep in mind when getting started. It’s time to pull out the hand tools, and put your green thumb to work!

I’ve been excited to plant my first herb garden at the new house. I am hoping this one fares as well as when I’ve planted in the past. This year I planted sage, thyme, rosemary, sweet basil, dark opal basil, cilantro, apple mint and spearmint. I also made sure to plant some other plants as well: decorative flowers, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeños, thai chili peppers, habaneros, and ghost peppers. I plan to place an order for Trinidad Scorpions and Carolina Reapers once it gets just a tad warmer here.

Having a garden like this is amazing once the summer comes around. Having a constant supply of fresh herbs makes cooking in the summer one of my favorite activities. Getting started is as easy as picking up one plant and taking care of it. If you’re anything like me though, you’re going to want to plan out something a bit bigger. I’ve put together some of my favorite tips below to help you start an herb garden!

Start an herb garden
It may not look like much now, but wait till they grow!

Start an Herb Garden 101

Decide what to grow

It is important to start by determining what herbs you are going to grow. Plants can vary on their needs, so starting here will make it much easier to figure out the rest. For a starting point, here is a list of some of the most commonly grown herbs:

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

For a full description on each of the herbs listed above, along with what conditions each need, visit this website.

When putting your list together, make sure to pay attention to what type of sunlight/shade each needs, along with what type of soil. Also, make sure to pay attention to any herbs that may be invasive or need to be contained. Herbs like mint should be separated from the rest of your garden, or planted in a container so it does not spread out of control.

Choose a location

Now that you know what type of sunlight you are going to need for each plant, pay attention to your yard to determine what areas get full sun, partial shade, and full shade. Then select which locations you will use for your herbs, making sure to pay attention to how convenient it is for you to access. For most herbs, full sunlight and well drained soil should work. I still recommend following the guidelines on what each plant needs.

Prepare your soil

Once you have your locations picked out, you will want to prepare the soil. Start with a small amount of digging with a trowel or transplanter to see what your soil texture looks like. If it is heavy in clay or sand, you will want to make sure to add a good amount of compost to compensate for the soil. Make sure to avoid any supplements or manure that can be high in nitrogen. Nitrogen is great at making plants grow quickly, but can also strip flavor out from your herbs. For any plants that need to be placed in planters, I recommend picking up some potting soil to plant them in.

This is also a good time to block off your garden if you plan on isolating it. Im my case, I dug out an area already blocked off by brick prior to planting, and added new brick to isolate the second section of my garden. Getting this done in advance will make life easy when it is time to plant.

Plant and maintain

You can either plant seeds or purchase plants that have already been started. I opted to get plants that were already starting to grow. If you do the same, you just need to transplant your plants into your garden and make sure to water the soil after transplanting to help them settle in. You can also mulch around your garden to reduce the risk of weeds and help keep moisture around your plants.

Make sure to look at a weather forecast before planting. You want to make sure that the last freeze of the season is over, and that temperatures look stable around the area your plants need. If you purchase seeds, you will just want to follow the directions for the seeds, and make sure to plant them at the appropriate time.

Maintenance is easy. If it doesn’t rain for a few days, give your plants a bit of water to make sure they are cared for. Plants like mint need more water than most, so it is good to read about what you are planting at your own leisure. Start harvesting from your garden as early as you like. Don’t be afraid to harvest from plants when they appear to be young or not producing much. Harvesting actually promotes additional growth, so by harvesting when it feels early you are helping your plants grow even more for the next harvest.

Once your garden is up and running, make sure to get out and enjoy it! It is wonderful to have herbs on hand for your needs, and the sense of accomplishment from using herbs you grew is just a plus. If you have any other tips, or stories about your garden, make sure to leave a comment below!

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