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Herb Gardening for Beginners

Herb Gardening for Beginners

By Valeria Maldonado Ortiz
July 5, 2020

Are you interested in building a small garden at home, but don’t know how to start? Or are you simply looking for a new hobby during quarantine? Keep reading to learn how to get started and the benefits of having a herb garden at your disposal. These herbs are ideal for beginners because they’re easy to grow and take care of! 

Find a home for your herbs

You can start your herb garden by placing herbs in containers or pots. This is where you can get creative! You can recycle water bottles, yogurt containers, or anything you have laying around in your backyard that can serve as a pot. Where you place them is crucial; you can leave them indoors or outdoors depending on the climate. Herbs love warm temperatures, so only leave them outside if you know they’re not going to freeze. Don’t be afraid to keep your herbs inside; just make sure they’re right next to a window. 

 

Sun or no sun? 

Look around your home to find the perfect spot for your herbs; the perfect spot includes lots of sun! The most sun an herb plant will need is about five to six hours of direct sunlight depending on the plant. For example, herbs such as rosemary or basil need a lot of sun. However, parsley or mint can thrive with around four hours of sunlight. 

 

The three types: perennial, annual, and biannual

Perennials can live for many years, provided that you give them the necessary care. Some of them lose their leaves in winter while others keep their leaves during cold weather. Some examples of perennials are mint, sage, thyme and rosemary. 

Annual herbs live throughout one season. Once they bloom, their life cycle ends and they die. Examples of this type of herb include basil, cilantro and dill. 

Biannual herbs, like parsley, produce stems and leaves their first year of life and bloom their second year. 

 

To pot an already established plant or to grow from seed?

The ultimate question when getting started is whether to pot a young established plant or grow from seed; truth is, there are advantages to both methods. Seeds are budget-friendly and when plants sprout, they are already well adapted to the place where they are growing. However, depending on the plant it could take a while for them to grow into the adult stage. Perennials usually take longer to grow, so, with this in mind, it might be more beneficial to buy young already established perennials. Buying seeds will allow you to see the whole process and documenting their growth can be a fun activity!

 

Taking care of herbs

When it comes to taking care of your herbs there, are a few things to take into consideration. One of these considerations is irrigation because each plant has its own watering needs. Some herbs like a specific level of moisture at all times; however, others like their soil dry out before being watered again. When you water them, make sure to pour the water slowly until you see it drain out. Another thing to consider is adding fertilizer to the water while your plants are growing. 

 

Cooking with herbs

Don’t be afraid to use your herbs in the kitchen! There are many herbs that can be used to give your dish an extra touch. When you want to use them to cook, grab a pair of scissors and cut! Take the healthy-looking branches first and make sure they don’t have insect damage. If it’s an annual, you can harvest it all, but if its a perennial harvest only about a third of the plant. Here are three plants you can include in your next dish: 

  • Oregano can be used to season meat or as a pizza topping!

  • Parsley can be used in salsa and in a salad it is also the perfect addition to many fish and meat dishes. 

  • Spearmint is similar to mint but has a lighter aroma and taste. It goes great in fresh iced lemonade during the summer months!

 

Benefits of a herb garden

Overall, growing an herb garden is a great way to hop into the world of gardening. Growing and herb garden can serve as a form of self-care. Care for a small plant and watch it grow! Not only can growing herbs help you de-stress, but they also have an amazing fragrance. Herbs such as basil, thyme, sage, and lavender will brighten and freshen up any space! An herb garden benefits don't stop there: herbs also attract pollinators, which help our environment flourish. On the other hand, they’re also natural repellents, helping to control pests. Add herbs to your home and outdoor space to enhance your dishes or simply take advantage of their wonderful properties!

By Valeria Maldonado Ortiz
Canton, NY

Val is a summer naturalist intern and a junior studying Psychology and Environmental Studies at St. Lawrence University. She is from Ponce, Puerto Rico and enjoys spending time relaxing at the beach, paddle boarding and taking pictures of the world around her!