How to Start an Herb Garden: Beginner’s Guide

herbs in wooden spoons

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A few fresh-picked leaves of basil with your pesto sauce, and Presto! Culinary pasta magic! A few bay leaves for flavor in your favorite stew, and it tastes just like grandma used to make. You can keep dishes alive with chives and be all the rage with just a hint of sage. Rosemary, tarragon, and thyme are perfect for impressing with the best chicken dish your family has ever had. Don’t forget to enjoy a mojito with fresh mint afterward to celebrate your victorious cooking conquest. 

Related: Pomegranate Cocktail

But herbs sold at the grocery store and markets can be hard to find and not always cheap. And then, when we purchase with great intention, we always tend to grab too much, and sadly the herbs end up going bad too quickly, and we start to feel bad about all the waste.  

So what is the best affordable and sustainable option for delicious fresh herbs? Well, you can easily learn to grow them yourself at home, trim them as you wish, for precisely what you need for the recipe. Having fun learning new ways to safely store them to preserve their flavors and having them around the house is like a dream to all the senses. 

So here’s some of what you will need to know before you start to seed and grow! For recipes, tips, and more, but sure to check out The Produce Moms.

Are you In or Out?

Both are nice, and you can easily choose indoors or outdoors. Both environments can grow herbs well, along with proper care and the right tools to start. 

You can easily grow herbs indoors if you have a space in your home that gets up to eight hours of sunlight in a day. Pick out a temperature-controlled sunny spot in a room, away from children and animals. Ready up first by preparing with the proper tools. 

herbs in front of a pot

You will need a trowel, gloves, flower pots with ample drainage, a tray to catch excess moisture, seeds or plants, and perfectly fertilized soil.

Getting started to grow herbs outside is a very similar preparation. You can still use pots or even expand into a garden, but the idea is generally the same. So first, pick your spot. Make sure it’s getting lots of good sunlight, and placement is essential and starting with good soil.

There are benefits and downfalls of growing fresh herbs both inside and outdoors. Growing indoors can be less work and more convenient, whereas outdoor gardens with more space might produce a significantly healthier yield of herbs. It comes down to your location and what works best for you.

Seeds or Plants?

You may find that growing your herb garden from seeds is more affordable and educational than buying up smaller, more expensive plants to care for. Gardening from seed can be fun. However, it requires a bit more planning and a lot more patience. If you decide to start from seeds, make sure to plant them about twice the thickness of the seed under the moist PH-balanced soil

If you’d rather start your herb garden from grown plants, you can purchase them from grocery and outdoor home improvement stores, fresh markets, and especially local nurseries. 

Depending on the herb buying, they may already come in a small container. When it’s time to transplant them to a larger container or pot, make sure you’re using suitable soil and break up the compact roots a bit, so they have room to stretch out in their new pots.

What to Grow

When you are a beginner grower, start with plants like sage, mint, thyme, chives, and even lemon balm. They are some of the easiest starter herb plants and are nearly incapable of being killed.

Then you can go into more complicated herbs like cilantro, basil, oregano, lavender, and parsley that can be a little more challenging but still easily cultivated. 

Related: 10 Sweet and Savory Kebab Recipes 

The Art of Watering

When watering your pots or garden herbs, your plants outside in the elements will likely need less frequent waterings than those planted in pots and containers inside. If soil is dry, indoor and outdoor plants should be watered in the morning rather than in the evening to make sure not to overwater them. 

Soil & Fertilizer 

Most herbs do not need much fertilizer to flourish. However, they may require it occasionally. Herbs produce the most beneficial oils when they are given a steady slow-acting fertilizer. Bone meal, cottonseed meal, blood meal, and fish emulsion can be good fertilizers for these plants

a mixture of herbs along with carrots

For herbs, usually, all you need is an excellent all-natural fertilizer mixed with a potting soil mix made especially for herbs. Using potting soil is also an excellent choice and will be lighter and softer, perfect for herb growth. Add in the occasional watering or needed fertilizer as needed. 

Most kitchen herbs will grow in soil with a Ph balance slightly below neutral-between 6.0 and 7.5. Certain herbs might require soil that is a bit more acidic to thrive. 

Related: All you need to know about freezing herbs.

Make it Your Own

Fresh, homegrown herbs are a great addition to any garden and can easily be grown indoors and outdoors. When growing herbs, choosing the right spot and using the correct soil and water appropriately is vital. You can also raise your herbs from seeds or plants, depending on your preference. Herbs provide many benefits, such as adding flavor to food or being used for medicinal purposes. So get your green thumb ready and start growing your herbs today!

Learn more about growing produce yourself at The Produce Moms.

About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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