An herb garden is one of the easiest and best ways to start growing food, even for gardening novices.
Growing an herb garden with your kids gives you a unique opportunity to teach them how plants grow. It is not difficult to do, can be done in homes and gardens of all sizes, and will spice up your cooking! Here’s a guide to the benefits of growing your own garden and some tips for success.
Benefits of an Herb Garden
Fresh herbs taste better and add more flavor to foods than store-bought ones. Plus, fresh herbs at the store can be pricey and may go bad before you can use them. You can save money and always have fresh herbs ready to snip and use with your own garden!
With your herbs so handy, you’re more likely to use them. You may even start experimenting with different herbs in new ways, such as adding them to butter, topping your breakfast eggs, or sprinkling some on a salad. More herbs in your diet are great for you and your family since herbs have health benefits, too. For generations, people have used them as botanical medicines for ailments, including headaches, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, digestive problems, and sleep issues. Plus, most herbs are rich in nutrients.
One of the best benefits of growing your own herbs is knowing exactly how they were produced. Unfortunately, store-bought herbs, even organic ones, may contain heavy metals such as arsenic and lead, some even at dangerous levels! Fill your homegrown garden with organic, pesticide, and heavy metal-free herbs.
An added benefit is that herbs can be a beautiful green decorative accent in your home and garden. Many, such as chives, lavender, and Thai basil, have colorful flowerings. You can also use herbs as fillers, ground cover, and bee attractors in your flower gardens. And they can even enhance your flower arrangements.
How to Get Started
Start your herb garden with seeds, small plants, or a combination of both. Growing from seeds will take extra time, but it is less expensive. Plus, it feels great to watch your plants grow from a tiny seed into something delicious. Grow charts will help determine the best time of year to start your seeds, how to plant them, and how long it will take for them to germinate.
Any small planter or seed tray and some good soil will work for starting your seeds. Peat pellets or starter kits make it easier for new gardeners. Don’t forget to label your containers so you know what is what when your tiny plants start growing! You can plant some herbs directly into your garden, such as basil, chives, and cilantro. Check the package for instructions and timing.
Herb plants are available at local garden centers, home and garden stores, plant sales, and directly from local farmers. You may even find free plants and trades available through online gardening communities. Once you have your plants in hand, there are many creative and fun ways to display your indoor herbs all year long!
What to Grow
While you can certainly grow a wide variety of herbs, it’s best to start with a few favorites. Easy-to-grow herbs, such as basil, dill, chives, and parsley, are also suitable for beginners. Think about the quantity you’ll be using, too. One plant may be enough if you want to sprinkle some snipped chives on an occasional baked potato. But, if you want enough basil to make pesto or enjoy cooking recipes that call for a cup of fresh parsley, it will require several plants to provide enough.
Different herbs require different amounts of sunlight, so place them accordingly in direct or indirect sunlight. Once you have your seeds planted or new plants situated, keep them watered according to their ideal conditions. Many soils will come with fertilizer, and herbs don’t need much. But, it is critical to understand the different types and how to use fertilizers to help your plants grow.
Once your seedlings have grown into hardier plants, they will need to be moved into a larger pot or an outdoor garden. When transplanting them to a new pot, make sure to take them out without separating any of the roots. Give them a good watering after transplanting.
If you want to move your indoor plants, you’ll want to wait five to 10 weeks until the plants are hardy enough. Also, check your area’s typical last frost date and don’t plant before then. The first step is to harden your herbs by gradually increasing their exposure to outdoor conditions. Water your plants before and after moving them, and ensure they are firmly planted and secured with dirt.
Congratulations, you have started your herb garden! Each year you can expand on the variety of herbs and methods for growing them. Herb gardens are also a fun way to teach your kids about plants!