Grow An Herb Garden

We just recently moved into a new house- so I am once again starting over with a yard that needs a lot of work.  I am hoping next year to plant an herb garden- but I wanted to do a little research to see what herbs are perennials and hardy (requiring little work to keep alive).

Before you start planning an herb garden, consider first what herbs you like to have on hand.  Next, depending on the soil you have in your yard, you should plan on either a raised bed or putting herbs in pots- this helps minimize and control weeds as well as the different fertilizing needs/soil needs of different plants.

For my first herb garden, I am planning on planting the following:

  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Mint

I want to start small, b/c this gives me the ability to fully focus on caring for and learning about these plants before I add others.

Rosemary:

Rosemary

Caring for this hardy perennial is relatively easy, it is not picky about soil- just make sure it drains fairly well and amend if you have rocky or clay soil.  Rosemary likes full sun and a relatively sheltered location, so if possible plant where it gets some wind protection and if you live in a colder climate, you may have to winter indoors.

Rosemary grows very easily from cuttings, just snip a portion and place in water till it roots- and share with a friend. This herb grows fairly quickly into a shrub-like size- so make sure you leave room for it to grow.

Lavender:

Lavender-Avonview-1010

Check out these two links about Lavender.  I live in the southern US, so I will probably plant either Lavendula angustifolia – Common or English Lavender or Lavendula dentata – French Lavender.

Click here and here for more info about Lavender and how to grow it where you live.

Lavender likes full sun and well-drained soil, it is not as cold hardy, depending on variety- so you need to check that before deciding what cultivator to grow.

Sage:

Sage in bloom 032

Sage is also a perennial that likes full sun.  Evergreen with a shrub-like habit sporting woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers.

Sage does not like wet feet, if you water it too much, you will kill it.  Sage thrives in dry conditions with little or no care, so neglect it. :)

You can use generic potting soil, just add a little sand to make sure that it drains well, do not use a moisture control potting mix that holds a lot of moisture in the soil.

Thyme:

Thyme

Thymus vulgaris, common thyme is a shrub-like perennial.

Handsome low-growing plants. Zones 5-9. Gets 6-12 inches tall.

Thyme prefers a sandy, dry soil. Avoid planting in heavy, wet soils. Nutrient requirements for Thyme are not heavy, so soil should only receive a moderate amount of fertilizer.

Harvest thyme just before the flowers begin to open; cutting the plant one to 2 inches from the ground. A second growth will develop but this should not be cut. This would reduce the plant’s winter hardiness.

Every spring cut thyme plants back to half its previous height to retain the tender stems and bushy habit.

Mint:

Mint

Mint can be an invasive plant, grown by underground rhizomes- some are a foot or more tall.  Grow mint in full sun- you may want to put it in a pot to keep it from taking over your herbal garden or yard.

Some of the most popular mints are black stem peppermint (Mentha x piperita vulgaris) very strong fragrance and vigorous- can be invasive.

Lemon or orange mint (M x piperita ‘Citrata’) which is not as aggressive and makes a great tea.

Curly leaf mint and julep mint (M. spicata ‘Crispa’) and ginger mint (M. x gracilis).

Mint loves moist soils, another good reason to keep it in a container where you can water it often and keep it moist. Coffee grounds are a great fertilizer for this plant as it likes nitrogen rich fertilizers.

You can root pieces of mint in water if you wish to share or propagate from a friend.

As I get my herb garden going, I will update on my successes and struggles- please share if you have an herb garden and give some recommendations based on your experience.

Here is a great conversation that you can read about herbs- esp. perennial herbs on gardenwebs forum.  I found it very helpful.  Click here.