|Herb gardens thrive without much attention.|
An herb garden can be an easy, fun way to ease into gardening by growing a variety of plants that you can use to flavor your food. If you are new to herb gardening, it can be intimidating to get started. We've got tips to help you plan and care for your first herb garden.
Herb Gardening: What to Plant
It's best to plant the types of herbs that you already cook with, so you know you will use them. Choose from herbs you already cook with and herbs that are less familiar to you. You might find new favorites with this approach. Top herbs for kitchen gardens include:
|Water herbs in the morning.|
Caring for Your Herb Garden
Herb gardens are great for beginners since they thrive even without much attention. Select a sunny location, since full sunlight helps the herbs to maximize their flavor.
If you're planting herbs in containers, select one container per plant so that plants can spread. If you want to plant herbs in the ground, start with the right environment. Herbs do best with a pH close to neutral. You can have your soil tested or pick up a DIY test kit at your garden center. If your pH is too acidic, lime can bring it down. If your soil is too alkaline, pine needles or oak leaves can make it more acidic.
Many herbs -- including mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, and tarragon -- are perennials and will return every year. Allot these plants 18 square inches of garden space, to provide enough room for them to flourish. Mint can take over a garden, so consider restraining this one in a container to preserve garden space.
|Harvest herbs by cutting just above a leaf node.|
Once you've plotted out what to plant and set aside the space, organize your herbs so that tall ones (such as cilantro or basil) are in the back and low herbs, like sage or thyme, are in the front. This way, the taller herbs will not shade the short ones.
Water your herbs in the morning so they can dry out during the day. These plants generally need one hour of water a week, although more water is a good idea during the peak heat of summer.
Harvest herbs by cutting the branch just above a leaf node, using garden shears. The more you cut your herbs, the bushier the plants become. Morning is the best time to harvest, since the plants have the most essential oils at that time.
Once you try herbs in your garden, you'll love having quick access to fresh, flavorful aromatics for cooking.
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