The important thing to remember about growing herbs is that they are relatively easy to cultivate and will do well as long as they have good drainage and ample sun. Culinary herbs add great beauty to the landscape and provide variety and flavor to any recipe in which they are used.
Native to the Mediterranean and favored by many herb gardeners, growing rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is popular for its medicinal and culinary qualities. As a decorative shrub, its rich aroma and blue-green, needle-like foliage makes it a favorite addition to any border. As a culinary herb, its leaves may be used fresh or dried to complement meat dishes, stews and vegetables. In ancient times, rosemary was associated with fidelity and memory. Tender perennial shrub grows 1-4 feet tall.
Like most Mediterranean herbs, rosemary can tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions, but does best in light, well drained conditions. It requires plenty of light and protection from frost. Rosemary does very well in containers and can be grown in a sunny window, year-round. (more…)
A member of the carrot family, this cool-season, biennial herb is planted as an annual. When growing parsley (Petroselinum crispum) home gardeners often select between two common varieties; flat leaf and curled. Which type you choose depends on your taste. Flat leaf is used for cooking soups and stews, curled is used fresh as a garnish or in salads. Plants grow 10-20 inches tall and make a very nice border for the herb garden.
Note: An excellent source of vitamins and minerals (A, C, calcium and iron), this popular culinary herb is also known as a breath freshener.
Parsley requires ample water, well drained rich soil and afternoon shade, especially in hot climates. Prepare beds or rows with plenty of compost or aged manure, worked in to a depth of 6 inches.
Tip: Growing parsley will attract butterflies and beneficial insects to the garden. (more…)
Available in several varieties and cultivars, with each offering its own unique flavor and aroma, growing oregano (Origanum) is popular with many home gardeners. The culinary herb is often used in soups, salads, meat dishes and pizza, especially in Italian and Mexican cuisine. Hardy perennial plants grow 18-30 inches tall.
Like most Mediterranean herbs, oregano is very easy to grow and requires little water. Sandy soil is best, but the plant will grow in almost any garden conditions. It thrives in full sun (leaves may lose flavor when grown in shade) and a location sheltered from high winds. Most species can tolerate a moderate freeze. Mulch over the plant with compost, leaves or straw if winters are severe. (more…)
Stand back! Mint (Mentha) produces quickly and can be invasive in ideal conditions. As a result growing mint is perfect for the beginning gardener. One of the most popular herbs, it is known by its square stems and aromatic leaves. Plants are hardy perennials often attaining 3 feet in height.
Mint grows from underground runners and thrives on abundant water. It’s not fussy about soil or light, but ample water is mandatory for success. To prepare soil, dig in plenty of compost. Avoid using animal manures with weed seeds since weeding becomes difficult in an established mint patch.
How to Plant:
Although they may be grown from seed, it is a good idea to buy small plants of your choice to be sure of getting the variety you want. Space plants 1-2 feet apart in all directions and mulch to retain moisture and keep leaves clean. Mint is easy to propagate from cuttings. Older mint plantings can be divided up every 4-5 years. (more…)
Herb gardeners growing marjoram (Origanum majoricum) enjoy its fragrant and flavorful leaves, which are highly esteemed for seasoning. The aroma and flavor is similar to mild oregano, but noticeably sweeter. Plants grow 1-2 feet tall and have square stems, gray-green leaves and small white flowers borne in clusters. Perennial, often grown as an annual.
May be grown in pots, containers or herb gardens. Plants prefer full sun and will grow in any type of soil and with very little water, however it will thrive in fast draining, sandy soil.
Tip: Sweet marjoram attracts beneficial insects and butterflies to the garden.
How to Plant:
Start indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Sow seeds just beneath the surface of the soil. Seeds will germinate in 10 days. Plant out after the danger of frost has past. Space plants 8 inches apart in all directions. Begin harvesting 5-6 weeks after transplanting outdoors, or when plants are growing vigorously. No fertilizer is necessary for this hardy plant. (more…)
Native to southern Europe, growing lovage (Levisticum officinale) was very popular during the Middle Ages when it could be found in almost every kitchen garden. The leaves, stems and seeds of the plant all taste like celery. The most popular usage today is in soups and salads. Very hardy and much easier to grow than celery. Perennial with shiny, dark green leaves.
Lovage prefers full sun to light shade and a rich, moist, well-drained soil. Before you plant, consider how much space can be devoted to growing this herb. Mature plants will reach 4-6 feet high, which makes it the perfect backdrop for any garden. Grows well in large containers, too!
Tip: Lovage attracts a large number of beneficial insects. (more…)
Native to Europe, Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) was used as early as the seventh century as a purifying tea and for medicine. The herb is said to cure all manner of ailments from head lice to shortness of breath. Today home gardeners are growing hyssop for its leaves, which are used to flavor green salads, soups, liqueurs and stews. Attractive plants have woody stems, small pointed leaves, and spikes of small pink, red and blue-purple flowers. There also are forms with pink or white flowers. Hardy perennial grows 2-3 feet tall.
Hyssop prefers full sun to partial shade and dry, well-drained soil. Prior to planting work in plenty of organic matter, such as compost, or aged animal manure. It is also helpful to add a light application of organic fertilizer to the planting hole. Hyssop grows equally well in containers.
Note: This perennial is often used as a border plant in herb gardens and is extremely attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. (more…)
Attractive and flavorful, home herb gardeners are growing dill (Anethum) for its seeds and feathery foliage commonly used with fish and fowl. Its large fragrant heads are great for making dill pickles, spicing up summer salads or as a unique addition to flower bouquets. Foliage is abundant and long-lasting. Self-seeding annual grows 3-4 feet tall.
Prefers full sun, regular water and rich well drained soil. Loosen soil to a depth of 8-12 inches and work in a handful or two of organic fertilizer. Plants grow vigorously and will readily volunteer each year from dropped seeds. Dill is frost-tolerant but will not do well in prolonged freezing temperatures. (more…)
A member of the Allium family, most home gardeners are growing chives for the mild, onion-flavored leaves, although the plants also produce attractive and edible purple flowers in the spring. They are easy to plant and make attractive borders around herb gardens. Plants grow to 1-1/2 feet tall and self-sow readily. Perennial in zones 3-9.
Each spring, work aged compost into your garden plot. Chives grow well in full sun, ample water and rich, sandy soil. The plant will tolerate frost but not prolonged freezing temperatures. They are frequently grown as annuals in climates with winter temperatures below 32 degrees F.
How to Plant:
Chives grow easily from seed planted directly in the ground or from divisions. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep in early spring. Seed germinates best at 70 degrees F. with germination usually occurring in 14 days. Chive plants are usually not thinned, but left to grow in bunches. (more…)
Beautiful blue star-shaped flowers hang in clusters. The leaves are covered with stiff white hairs and appear to be almost woolly. Bees love the bright flowers and rely on borage (Borago officinalis) as a nectar source, literally covering the plants some days. The flowers are great for floating in cool drinks at summer parties. Plants grow 2-3 feet tall and self-sow readily. Annual.
Container gardens, herb gardens and organic gardens all work well for growing borage. It prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade, and rich, moist soil. Choose a site that is well protected from wind as it is easily blown over and work in plenty of organic matter prior to planting.
How to Plant:
Easily grown from seed. Borage can be started indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost or direct seeded just after the danger of frost has passed. Plant seeds just beneath the surface of the soil and thin seedlings to at least one foot apart. Trim back occasionally to keep them tidy and more upright. (more…)