There is nothing more satisfying then picking fresh herbs and using them in a home cooked meal. The great thing about growing herbs is you really do not need much space. If you have a spot with 6 hours or more of sunshine then you are good to go.
Basil, dill, cilantro, rosemary, parsley, chamomile, chervil, sweet marjoram and summer savory are herbs that are called annuals. These need to be replanted each year as they die with the cold weather. You can try to move them indoors for the winter, but its pretty difficult to have them thrive.
There are other perennial herbs which come back each year. Some examples are mint, thyme, sage, tarragon lemon balm, lavender and sorrel.
If you are new to gardening start with plants rather than seeds, it is just easier and will save you weeks of waiting.
Let's start with some of the most commonly used herbs:
Parsley is biennial, which means that it grows for two seasons and then dies and needs to be replaced. You can find curly and Italian types. There are other hybrids as well. Its great in soups.
Sage - perennial – I use mine in the rock garden because of the great color of the leaves. Its wonderful with pork and lamb. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Rosemary - perennial – This is one of the oldest herbs known to mankind. I try to bring mine in each winter, but its really difficult to keep it looking great. This herb loves sunshine and do not over water.
Thyme - perennial – I have much of my thyme planted amongst a walkway. It’s a great groundcover and the lemon variety is particularly scented.
Basil - annual – Of all the herbs this is many peoples personal favorite. Pesto, sauces, on top of a big beefsteak tomato is all good. Do not plant this outside until the weather is warm. It hates cold damp weather and will die.
Chives - perennial – I use chives in eggs, salads and tuna. I also let some of my chives bloom because the purple flowers are great in June.
Dill - annual – Another herb that is great in eggs and on a grilled salmon, it’s easy to grow but does not like too much heat.
Oregano - perennial – I have an oregano plant that is well over a decade old. I use this in sauces and on chicken. It stays in a nice clump and come back year after year. Hardy in Zones 5-9.
Mint - perennial – I recommend growing this in containers as it LOVES to spread and will take over your garden. Hardy in Zones 4-10.
Step By Step Planting Instructions.
1. Choose a sunny spot close to the kitchen if possible. If using containers choose three of manageable size.
a. If you have a container fill it with good potting soil and mix some time release fertilizer in the soil according to directions.
2. Plant when the sun is low and the weather cool.
3. Dig a hole about 1.5 times as wide as the plant.
4. Gently remove the herb from the store container
5. Plant the herbs 18” apart, (12” if in a container to save room) Do not plant any deeper than it was in the original pot.
6. Place taller herbs, like sage, rosemary and marjoram, towards the back of the garden or pot. Parsley and cilantro are good for the front.
7. Water your newly planted herbs with a liquid fertilizer at ½ the recommended strength. Once established, make sure your herbs get an inch of water each week throughout the growing season.
8. You can begin to harvest your herbs as they grow, but take only small amounts so that you leave most of the plant in tact.
9. Keep the tops of the herbs pinched back through early summer, this will promote a bushier plant.