One thing I have noticed over the years of attempting to use my inner green thumb (rather than the hand of near instant death to all plants) is how fantastically your own herb garden can flourish. When you plant herbs, they look great, they smell great in the breeze and summer heat, and are practical AF.
This parsley is loving its location and has been left to grow wild. Not only will it provide a great bounty for its grower, it is also a delight to the eyes as a soft garden border.
So after almost 30 years of attempting and (let’s be honest) predominantly failing to produce a fabulous garden, finally I’ve found planting and tending to herbs give me the satisfying ‘successful gardener’ sort of feeling I’ve been craving all this time!
Why herbs and not something else you may ask? For anyone who can relate to this:
- no time
- limited money (especially a very small amount to throw into plants that may shrivel and die)
- a great love of eating as much fabulous food as you can fit in my belly
- tonnes of hours of work and never ending to-do lists
- possible kid wrangling on top of all of the above
Then I reckon herb garden is the best way to go! You can keep connected to nature by tending your own easy to grow plants. Show off your talents as a homegrown herb chef or zingy cocktail entertainer spectacular. Impress yourself and your friends or family with a delightful green garden of herbs added to your outdoor set up. Basically, feel awesome that you’re also growing more useful plants in the world, reducing plastic use by significantly reducing or avoiding altogether the purchase overpriced fresh herbs at the shops. The list goes on… get yourself stuck into setting up a herb garden!
Mint from the garden makes a great addition to many cocktails – here it’s going to be mixed in with this fruit, some lemonade and soda to create a refreshing Pimms beverage. To be enjoyed responsibly anywhere, anytime! In this case looking out over a backyard pool in the French countryside.
Unsure of where to start? Don’t sweat it! I already did (in the summer heat, many days) and think I’ve found a pretty ripper way to get an instant kitchen garden which requires a little love and care (but not too much) and a bit of reshuffling of things as they bloom and grow. Easy.
4 THINGS TO CONSIDER IN ORDER TO GROW HERBS AT HOME:
1. The Perfect Place
This one is pretty easy: sunshine or natural light, warmth, easy to access. If you want to easily enjoy the bountiful results of your (not so hard at all) work remember these three things! They are some of the most important factors to consider if you plan to quickly and efficiently tend to your herb garden. Please note it is ideal if you have direct sunlight for your herbs however natural light (e.g. indoors) is also an option.
Clever use of herbs as a fresh, fragrant border at the front door of an apartment in a village in Belgium.
Consider the below:
- Check you aspect. Herbs need about four hours of sunlight per day. Whether it’s a kitchen window or patio, or in your garden, make sure the herbs you plant will get enough sunlight. A warm, sunny location where there won’t dry out and have enough room to grow is ideal.
Depending on whereabouts in the world you are, you will find your best aspect may be north east facing in the southern hemisphere, for example in Australia, or South West in the northern hemisphere.
A really easy way to tell is to have a little sip of your favourite beverage on a quiet weekend. While doing this, investigate a few spots around your property to follow the sun’s path over the day and see whether there is enough light for your herbs. Who needs a better excuse to relax than that? You are preparing for your future by planning out a garden of things you will eat. Totally legit.
If you don’t have time for that (let’s face it that could be a tad too time heavy for some of us) you can always take a quick walk around your place (indoors or outside) every other hour and see where there is around 4 hours of light in a particular area. I
f you are unsure of your choice of location, not to worry! Best to plant herbs in pots or a moveable container. This way you can easily shift them if after a while the plants are not looking like they are flourishing or if you realise they need more sunlight over time.
For a more structured approach try Milkwood’s instructions on how to properly map the sun to help with your garden design.
- Think about your lifestyle. It is important to choose the setup that best suits your lifestyle. This will depend heavily on the amount of space you have access to and how big you want your herb stash to be. The main consideration is what will work with your current living space.Here’s heaps on differnt styles of herb gardens and what to plant in them.
- Location Location! One complete pain in the backside when caring for your home grown herbs is having to go majorly out of your way to tend to it. If it’s not easy access, it becomes difficult or annoying to remember to water, to check that all is in order if you have the desire to do so, and to make use of the fragrant leaves mid cooking.
Choose somewhere that is en route in your daily walk from front of house to the kitchen. That may start at the gate, carport, front door, wherever you normally first walk into your property. Somewhere in there, if you can, consider where you may put at least some of your herbs. You could have a small selection growing for example, in your kitchen itself and the larger crops on the balcony or in the garden near the steps or garden hose.
2. Healthy, rich soil and fertilisers
- If you’re not planting your herbs in the ground, I recommend getting the best quality potting mix you can lay your hands on for your herb garden. Gardening Australia’s gives a detailed breakdown of what to look out for in selecting the best potting mix
- Organic fertilisers are the best! Worm juice (or have your own worm farm) does wonders for the garden, as does seaweed fertiliser. Or you can go for your standard fertilisers as found in local garden centres.
3. Your equipment
First things first, figure out where you are going to keep your equipment so it’s easy to access when you need it. I recommend:
- Scissors for snipping the herbs you want to use near the kitchen
- Gardening gloves
- Storage container for your gardening equipment
- Water can or some such close to your herbs
A tip – if the garden hose or tap isn’t close to your plants, consider a small watering can that you place near the herbs. You can easily refill this small vessel and keep it handy ready for the next water.
I’ve been used an old metal milking bucket and an old watering can (pretty sure both are from the early 1900s…). I fill up the bucket and watering can and take them upstairs. I use one to water and leave the other on the verandah for the next time the soil feels a little dry (usually every 2-3 days) so I don’t have to lumber downstairs for every water… just every section watering session.
Another option is to consider growing basil and other water loving plants right under your garden tap. This means you’ll be watering it often and it will be easy access. It may also catch any extra water that escapes your hose while you water the garden.
Note: if you are growing from seeds rather than seedlings you will require additional equipment and set up (see post 2 growing from seeds, seedlings or established plants)
4. The plants!
Check here for ideas on which herbs to choose for your garden.