If this is your first year starting an herb garden and you are looking for some guidance, you’ve come to the right place! Here, we’re going to be sharing gardening tips to help you have a successful, bountiful in-home herb garden.
Gardening can be a fulfilling pastime, and there are few better feelings than harvesting your own batch of home-grown herbs. When done correctly, home-gardens can thrive, but inexperienced gardeners often face a few problems getting their garden in the ground. The best way to ensure your garden will succeed is to do as much research as possible to become familiar with the process. Ultimately, learning from the mistakes gardeners before you have already made. Some common beginner gardening mistakes include:
Whether you plant in containers indoors, in traditional in-ground garden beds, or raised beds, soil quality is essential. While some people may have access to healthy, nutrient-rich soil, most of us live in industrialized areas where the soil lacks certain key ingredients. To give your home-garden the best chance of thriving, use pre-mixed soil from a garden center that is analyzed for optimum nutrition. Most nurseries and home-improvement stores will offer various mixes suitable for starting seeds or potting for the summer season.
Experienced gardeners know that they will have the most success with plants that grow naturally in their zone or comparable climates. Still, few novice gardeners even know what a “planting zone” is. The average minimum winter temperature designates planting zones; thus, helping gardeners choose plants that are hardy to their respective climate. Before you buy seeds or plants, figure out what planting zone you are in to narrow down your options.
Not all herbs thrive in the same conditions. Therefore, some plants need to be planted earlier – or later – in the season than others. Many beginner gardeners make the mistake of planting herbs out of season, trying to force autumn herbs to grow in spring, for example. When you buy seeds, the packet will usually include instructions for the best time to plant – otherwise, a quick Google search will give you the answers you need.
Now that you know what could go wrong let’s cover some tips to make your home-garden successful! Here are seven fundamental tips one can apply universally to ensure the garden has a healthy growing season:
Plants are sensitive to everything from light and temperature to how much wind or rain they experience. So, it is important to choose the right location when you plant. Both indoor and outdoor gardens can suffer from too much or too little light exposure, extreme temperatures, and inadequate humidity. But, you can avoid many of these problems by simple placement choices.
Whether you plant your herb garden indoors or out, most herbs need plenty of sunlight throughout the day. Choose a location that receives at least 8 hours of direct sunlight to help your plants grow at a healthy rate. Indoors, the best place for an herb garden is in a south-facing window.
In the early stages of starting your herb garden, you’ll want to keep your seedling-babies consistently moist without soaking them in water. Until your herbs sprout their first true leaves (the leaves that look like the adult plant’s leaves), spritz your herbs with a gentle misting of water 4-7 times weekly. Once your herbs begin to mature and can be transplanted, switch to a once or twice weekly watering cycle, giving the roots a good drink each time. Avoid watering so heavily that your herbs sit in standing water, and avoid allowing the soil to dry out entirely.
To ensure your plants have the best chance of growing big and strong, use pre-mixed seed starters and potting mixes to fill your garden beds or containers. Pre-mixed soils contain all the nutrients needed to grow plants and already provide the proper fertilizers ratio. Be sure to buy organic soil.
Choosing the correct container to hold your garden is another essential part of successfully growing your herbs. One of the easiest and most foolproof methods is to plant in raised beds if you plan to plant outside. In doing so, you reduce the risk of your beds being overtaken by weeds while offering the same convenient format as traditional garden beds.
If you plant inside, be sure to choose containers that will allow ample room to grow. Crowding can significantly reduce your season’s yield and can even cause some plants to grow too slowly to reach full maturity. If you have to choose, opt for width over depth.
The eco-friendly movement has been increasing the number of sustainable companies using organic growing methods. But, want to grow your own organic herbs? It’s easy! Start by buying organic seeds, then plant them in an all-natural organic soil mix. As long as you never treat your soil, water, or plants with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, your herbs will be 100% organic!
If you notice pests – take action! Pests can decimate even indoor gardens. So, be careful and don’t leave minor issues to turn into large infestations. If you use organic growing methods, you can still address pests using natural ingredients that work to repel or eliminate harmful bugs, fungi, and microbes.
Before you purchase seeds or a plant, take a little time to do some research. Learn whether they can survive happily in your zone or climate, whether they prefer to live indoors or out, how much light they need, what their watering requirements are, and so on. By knowing what your plants need to thrive, you’ll be better prepared to give them the right environment to grow.
Considering planting an indoor garden? Here are a few indoor-specific tips and tricks:
To increase your chances of success, choose plant varieties that are known to thrive indoors. Some popular indoor herbs include mint, thyme, chives, catnip, basil, and common garden sage. Many of these herbs can be grown indoors year-round with the right amount of light and warmth, so you could have fresh herbs ready to harvest whenever you need them.
Plants like consistency, so to keep your indoor garden comfortable, maintain steady indoor temperatures. A dip of 5-10 degrees from day to night won’t hurt your herbs, but more fluctuation than this can cause dehydration or reduced growth.
Even if you live in a small space, there are always options to give your plants extra room to grow. Adding trellises to climbing plants can encourage them to grow extra-large while using as little surface space as possible.
If you are lucky enough to have an outdoor space at your disposal, take advantage and plant yourself a beautiful herb garden. To help you succeed, follow these outdoor garden-specific tips and tricks:
Before you plant everything at once, learn about each variety of herb you plan to grow to find out when their growing season begins. Not all plants like to grow in early spring. So, planting according to the plants’ preferred season will help you get the best yield and the happiest plants.
Local weather will play a prominent role in your outdoor garden’s success, which is why you need to learn about your native environment. Learn when the last and first frosts of the season occur. Study rainfall patterns and anticipate times of drought. Know what your environment can do, and plan accordingly.
You don’t have to be a master gardener to grow a bounty of fresh herbs yourself this year. Learning to garden is easy and only takes a little bit of research to get your first seeds in the ground. If you follow these tips and learn as much as possible during the process, you are sure to have a plentiful harvest this season.