Choosing your favorite herb plants and growing them is a good way to start your own herb garden. Decide for herbs that will flourish in your climate, and take some time to choose which plot—or in which containers—to grow them. Consider how much sun your herbs require and place them appropriately in your garden.
Most culinary herbs grow well in pots, and the advantage of planting herbs in different pots is that you can move the plants around the garden for more sun or shade depending on the month, or move any frost-tender herbs indoors during winter.
- Window boxes enable you to grow a variety of herbs in one space, and can be conveniently positioned by a kitchen window to make gathering them at the last moment for cooking or decorating dishes even easier.
- Grow herb plants in large containers with drainage holes in the bottom. Use high quality soil mixed in equal quantities with vermiculite for Mediterranean herbs, and hundred percent potting soil for delicate herbs.
- Potted herbs require frequent watering, and daily watering in the summer.
Beds and borders
If you have a vegetable garden or ornamental beds or borders, plant medicinal and culinary herbs in between existing plants. Place sun-loving herbs where they’ll get plenty of light, and tuck shadelovers around taller ornamentals.
- A small, personal, dedicated herb garden packed with herbs can occupy as little as 5 x 111⁄2ft (1.5 x 3.5m). If possible, place where you can see it.
- A formal arrangement is possible even in the smallest of gardens: position low-growing herbs such as thyme or chamomile between paths made of crushed rocks, bricks, or flagstones.
- Draw your dream garden on graph paper before you dig it. Then mark out planting areas in geometric or soft, curving patterns.
- If you add arbors, trellises, pillars, arches, water features, and statues, you can give it a formal look. If you have a sloping garden, terraces make a lovely addition to the design.
Testing the soil
Do this simple test before you plant herbs. The best soil is loam (a mix of clay and sand). Clay needs sand and compost to enhance aeration; sandy soil retains water and nutrients only if you add compost to it.
Remove any weeds, grass, or plants from the surface and lift out a clod of earth with a spade. Repeat in two other locations in your garden patch.
Combine the samples and mix well, squeeze some mixed soil in your palm, and tap it with a finger. If it falls apart, it’s loam; if gritty, it’s sandy; if it forms a lump, it’s clay.
Making your own compost
Add leaves, grass clippings, uncooked vegetable waste, and dead (but never diseased) plants to a compost bin that’s 5ft (1.5m) square and 3ft (90cm) high. Don’t add grasses or weeds that have set seed.
Collect your compostable material in the bin. Keep the heap moist and turn it every two weeks, using a fork or shovel, until the material starts to break down.
You may use your compost when it has turned dark brown in color, is crumbling in texture, and looks and smells like soil.