If you are obsessed with food you simply must grow a few herbs. They are some of the easiest, most grateful plants to grow. Here is an easy step-by-step guide that will reward you with a bountiful harvest of flavours, aromas and health giving properties.
Step 1 - Position
Find a level area that receives at least five hours of sun a day. Don't go for some remote corner of the garden. Rather choose a prime position where your garden will get the attention and appreciation it deserves.
Step 2 - Design
Have a design in mind before you start. Here are some classic herb garden designs:
- A herb wheel has a hub with radiating paths from the central hub. Plant a tall herb like Fennel or a standard herb (Lavender, Rosemary, Lemon Verbena) in the centre. Alternatively install a fountain or plant a rose or lemon tree.
- A square garden divided into four with intersecting pathways.
- A rectangular garden using zigzagging pathways to break the area up into smaller spaces.
- A semi-circular shaped bed against a wall. Make radiating pathways from a central point in the middle of the wall.
Step 3 - Preparation
Water the area the night before so that the soil is damp and easy to work with.
Dig over the area to a spade's depth. Mix in generous amounts of compost, and bone meal or super phosphate for root development. Organic material like peanut shells, shredded bark, leaves and grass cuttings can also be added to make the soil drain better.
Lay the paving stones and pathways - your framework.
Step 4 - Select your herbs
Don't start with too many herbs - five or six is a good beginning. Be aware of which are annuals, biennials and perennials. Check the mature height of the plant so that you don't have small herbs behind taller herbs.
The following versatile herbs are ideal for the beginner, listed from the tallest to the lowest growing:
- Fennel - perennial
- Rosemary - perennial
- Sweet Basil- annual
- Mint - perennial
- Parsley - biennial but best grown as annual
- Marjoram - perennial
- Sage - perennial
- Garlic Chives - perennial
- Thyme or Lemon Thyme - perennial
Step 5 - Planting
Water the potted herbs before planting. Set them out and make changes to the layout if necessary.
Pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushy growth.
Because the bed has been well dug over, making a hole for each plant will be easy. Remove the herb from its pot, tease out the roots and place it in the ground at the same level as it was in the pot. Firm the soil gently around the herb. Water well to settle in.
You have a herb garden!
Step 6 - Aftercare
Water twice a week until the herbs settle in and then once a week. Feed the herbs with a liquid fertilizer, preferably organic, at half the recommended dose every two weeks. This is particularly important if you are picking the leaves regularly.
More Herb Gardening Resources:
11 Insider Tips to Improve Your Herb Gardening Success - a downloadable special report.
How To Start Your Own Herb Garden - a series of helpful articles.
Summer Herb Shopping List - another list of herbs to grow yourself.
Tips to Start a Potted Herb Garden - if you'd rather grow your herbs in pots.