How to grow herbs in 6 easy steps
A DIY herb garden is an easy way to have fresh basil, cilantro, and other staples on hand – no more running to the store or wasting money on wilted parsley! What’s not to like?
But if you’re wondering if a DIY herb garden is easy to set up and keep alive, rest assured, it’s the perfect choice for a beginner. Here’s how to get started in six easy steps.
1. Determine the best location for an herb garden
Find a patch of lawn that receives full sun for at least six hours a day.
âIf you live in foggy coastal climates, plant on the south or southwest side of your lawn,â recommends Rhianna miller of rubber mulch.
Be sure to avoid grass or turf that has been treated with pesticides, says Sam Souhrada, head of the maintenance division at FormLA Landscaping.
âThese chemicals don’t always stay where they’re sprayed, and the rain can wash them off and get into your herb garden,â he explains.
2. Choose your herbs
Most perennial herbs (eg, sage, mint, and thyme) and many annuals (eg, basil, cilantro, and dill) will thrive across much of the United States. eccentric. Instead, plant the ones you love and who to eat.
For example, chocolate mint sounds fun, but most people prefer regular mint for cocktails and iced tea. Basil is popular in salads (with tomatoes and mozzarella), pesto, and savory dishes. Bonus: Basil is known to ward off mosquitoes and house flies, reports Amy lowe, nursery specialist at Lowe’s.
Other low maintenance herbs include thyme and rosemary (the latter can survive on very little water).
3. Plant the herbs
âPlanting from seeds is cheaper, but also less predictable, and it takes more time,â notes Souhrada. And if you don’t know what oregano looks like, you might end up pulling it out when you weed. Instead, hunt down and put small plants from the farmer’s market or nursery. Look for bright colors, lots of foliage and no Bugs.
Space the herbs (10 to 12 inches between each) as many spread as they grow. Carefully remove the plant from its container, squeeze the lower roots to loosen them, then nestle it in a hole. Tamp the soil lightly around the grass, then water it well.
You may want to label each section with the name of the grass painted on a rock or written on a wooden stick.
4. Water and feed the plants
Water when the dirt is dry, during the morning hours. Direct the water jet on the ground, not on the leaves (this can promote mildew and disease).
âYou may need to water frequently, or even daily, in very hot climates,â says Miller.
How often you’ll need to weed is also related to rainfall, according to Souhrada.
âCheck the area weekly to make sure the weeds aren’t taking over the weeds,â he says.
Add 2 inches of mulch around your plants as it will release nutrients and help retain moisture so you can water a little less. Target weeds naturally with a white vinegar spray.
5. Pinch and trim flower buds
Do you see flower buds forming? Cut them off, which will help keep the flavor of the herb from getting bitter.
âSome flowers, like chives, are edible, but it’s not a good idea to let your herbs bloom early in the season,â says Miller.
Once this happens, the plant signals that its life cycle is ending. To prevent this from happening, pinch the heads as they appear.
6. Keep animals away
Get ready: Rabbits, mice, deer, and squirrels all want a share of your herb bounty. You can plant herbs in raised boxes and enclose them with wire mesh to prevent the critters from stealing the crop. Or sow the seeds with the critters in mind.
“Rabbits love lettuce, but not rosemary or cilantro,” Souhrada explains.
Control insects (beetles, mites, aphids and whiteflies) with organic or homemade sprays made from orange, cedar, peppermint, lavender or neem oil, Miller recommends.
âUsing bug spray for a five-day cycle will usually rid your herbs of offending insects,â she explains.