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Once you know how to grow herbs, you can easily start your own indoor or outdoor herb garden!
If you’ve never grown herbs, you are in for a treat. Fresh herbs taste incredible compared to the dried herbs you can buy at the supermarket. There is just no comparison. At all.
And once you start growing some of your own herbs, you might just add a few different herb plants to your garden next year!
How to Grow Herbs Indoors or Outdoors
Before we get into how to grow herbs, let’s take a look at why you may want to begin to grow herbs, and there are several reasons.
What are Herbs used for?
Herbs are not only used in cooking, they have other uses as well, including:
- for medicinal purposes
- ingredients for making soothing herbal teas
- adding flavour to food and cooking
- to add colour, beauty and variety to a garden
Many cultures use herbs in various ways and recipes, as they make food taste better and provide health benefits. Herbs grown at home or in the garden are much healthier than commercially grown herb plants!
This is because of the common use of pesticides on large farms and garden nurseries. Freshly picked herbs grown organically have a lot more taste and are much healthier for you.
Where to Buy Herb Plants and Herb Seeds
Herb plants can be grown organically from seeds or cuttings. The better quality plants are available between April and June or in the fall months.
Herb plants with lots of leaves in tiny pots may look healthy but have they been growing in heated greenhouses at the garden center? They may need extra care when you first get them home – you should slowly harden them off.
This means keeping the herbs indoors and setting them outside for a few hours every day. Add a bit of outdoor time every day, so the potted herbs settle in to the outdoor temperatures. Within a week, you should be able to leave the herbs outdoors day and night, depending on night time temperatures.
Really take a good look at the herb plants at the nursery before buying. The leaves should be whole, green, without spots, holes or obvious parasites – in other words, buy healthy plants at the start. Seeds and plants can be bought from nurseries or through reputable online stores.
Why are Herb Plants more Expensive to Buy?
Herbs are almost always more expensive to buy when you compare them to buying flowers. One reason is because many of these herbs are perennial plants. Many flowers are annuals so they are usually cheaper.
Are Perennial Herb Plants a Good Thing?
Many herbs are perennial plants and yes! Perennial herbs are a good thing to plant in containers or in your garden beds. Perennial herbs will grow all spring and summer and well into the fall.
Come the beginning of winter, they die back. At this point, trim off some of the dead leaves and branches. Over winter the plant will rest, then in spring, will begin to grow again. It’s not uncommon for herb plants to live for over 10 years, returning every year to supply you with fresh herbs.
How can I Find Free Herb Plants?
Swapping seeds, cuttings and plants is an inexpensive way to grow a garden! Many gardeners exchange cuttings with neighbours, family, friends and other gardeners and plant them in spring and summer when the heat makes roots grow quickly.
Outdoor Herb Gardens
A small, sunny plot of about 20 square feet should be enough for a medium-sized family. Most herbs like a lot of sun, although some will grow in shade.
Herbs plants do not grow well in stagnant water so a well-drained, slight slope with lots of sun is a good choice. Fine gravel and garden compost can be added into holes before planting to improve drainage and the quality of the soil.
Perennial and annual herbs can have different soil and water needs so perennial herbs could be grouped together in border areas of the garden and annual herbs in another part or grown with the vegetables in that part of the garden.
One of my favourite perennial herbs, Valerian herb, is grown in my flower bed. Since Valerian grows to about 5 feet tall, it’s the perfect flowering herb to grow amongst the flowers. And it smells just incredible! Find out more about how to grow Valerian right here.
What Herbs grow well together? What Herbs don’t grow well together?
Just like vegetables, sometimes herbs don’t grow well planted close to another particular type of herb.
Good Herb combinations:
These all work well growing next to each other.
Another Good Herb Plant Combination:
These herbs like drier conditions than the first group of herbs, so if you can plant these apart from the others it would be better. Watering will be easier, as it will be easier to keep the second group of herbs drier.
Does Mint Spread?
Yes, oh, yes it does. And that’s the reason you should consider always planting mint in a container! Mint can be a very aggressive spreader so it’s best to be grown alone, separately from other herbs.
Because mint can be so aggressive, it can also become very difficult to remove it from your herb garden. You may not mind your mint plant spreading in the beginning, but at some point, it will climb right in with other plants and you will find it very difficult to dig it out.
That being said, if you have a border in a sunny spot that you want filled with a pretty plant but want it to be very low maintenance, then Mint might just be the herb you need for that spot. Even invasive herbs have their spot in a garden. Just consider the speed and distance the mint will grow before deciding to plant it in the ground.
Indoor Herb Gardens – How to Grow Herbs Indoors in Pots
Herbs can also be grown on windowsills, terraces or balconies. They grow well in pots and can compete with any flowering plant for colour. Lavender’s purple flowers, chive’s purple pompoms and the red, yellow and green leaves of the sage herb are a feast for the eyes.
Pots can be hung from the rails of a balcony, the ceilings of covered terraces or from wire mesh fixed to a wall. Shelves are good for herbs that grow better in shade than direct sunlight like mint, parsley and bee or lemon balm.
For gardeners who don’t have a balcony or terrace, herbs can be grown together in a mixture of soil for flowers with some sand and compost in a terracotta pot on a windowsill.
Remember, herbs need well-drained soil so some fine gravel at the bottom of the pot should help with drainage. Some plants grow well together and others don’t.
This article, Herbs and Spices you can Grow Indoors has all the specific information you need. Plus you’ll find our list of 8 top herbs to grow indoors!
How to Store Herbs
Some herb plants can be abundant and provide much more than one family can use. So take what you need and then just leave the rest of your plant alone to grow.
After you take enough herbs for fresh eating, don’t forget that you can cut and preserve large harvests of herbs to use later in cooking.
Most herbs can be dried in a dark, hot, well-aired room or in an oven at 50°C. Everything you want to know about how to dry herbs can be found at that link.
We use a lot of Chives over the winter – here are all the different ways to dry Chives to use later for cooking.
Freezing herbs preserves their aromatic qualities better than drying them. Here’s how I freeze Basil leaves – and they taste just as fresh in January as when I harvested them in the summer. Works for other herbs too!
An increase in the popularity of ethnic and organic foods combined with the fact that fresh herbs have more taste than dried herbs means that more people are growing their own herbs in indoor or outdoor herb gardens for fresh use, drying or freezing.
Once you know how to grow herbs, you can easily grow and save your own herbs and stop buying dried herbs at the store!
More articles you want to know about:
Want all of our Best Gardening Tips plus links to each of our vegetable gardening articles? All the info you need is right there!
Want to learn How to Preserve Food – this article has links to each of our preserving food articles, including freezing, dehydrating, water bath canning, pressure canning and more!
More information on growing your own herbs can be found right here.