Fresh herbs are such a delight — and they can be right outside the kitchen door. Herbs are easy to grow. Many are drought-tolerant (they’ll survive the dog days of summer and can handle a missed watering or two without croaking). I planted an herb garden yesterday in about half an hour. Granted, it took longer to buy the plants. Go for a dedicated herb garden or just pop in one or two kinds you like. You’ll be proudly snipping fresh herbs right away.
Choosing herbs to grow
Plant what you like to eat or use. Some favorite herbs include:
- Basil – make your own tomato and mozzarella caprese salad
- Cilantro – a personal favorite and not just for Mexican food
- Chives – not just for baked potatoes
- Dill – great with everything from cucumbers to omelettes to potatoes
- Mint – mojitos, anyone? (best in a container!!)
- Oregano – you get the idea…
How much do I need?
- Basil – I do at least 8 plants
- Cilantro & dill – Great to grow from seed so you can do succession planting
Where to put an herb garden?
- In the sun – most herbs need full sun (6+ hours/day), except cilantro that likes a little heat relief in partial shade
- Near the kitchen, ideally
- Containers work fine — and are recommended for spreaders like mint!
- In an area no deeper than about 2 feet — to easily reach in and snip, snip
- Mixed into vegetable/flower gardens or as a stand-alone herb area
Tips for designing an herb garden
You can choose any design you like — from a mixed bed to a formal herb garden (like a knot garden design). Here are some quick tips for designing a simple, informal and highly useful herb garden:
- I like to place the pots roughly in the area before digging. This way, it’s easy to move around to get the spacing right
- Use perennial herbs as the foundation — place those first as they’ll come back year after year: mint, thyme, oregano and others. Then, fill in with annual herbs (those that die off when it freezes)
- Taller plants toward the back:
- Pineapple sage
- Shorter toward the front, which also allows them to drape over the edge:
- Put crazy spreaders in containers! seriously.
- Mint and I have a love-hate relationship. #%&! mint takes over my garden, but I love it in all kinds drinks (juice, seltzer, mint and a little ginger ale is tasty)…oh yes, mojitos too, of course.
- Add some pizzazz if you like – for example:
- Yarrow – officially an herb, but not used for cooking – adds lovely texture (feathery foliage) and flowers (yellow or pink)
- Lemongrass – tall grassy spikes can make a nice centerpiece to an herb garden – and tastes great, used in Asian dishes
- Edging flowers – use alyssum, lobelia or other edging flowers for a nice accent – white could be nice but pick any color you like
Stay tuned for more tips on growing and harvesting herbs – join us on Facebook/SnappyGardening or get updates via email (enter email top left).