Pro tips for starting an herb garden

Spring is upon us, which means it’s time to start an herb garden that will allow you to enjoy the fruits of your labor all summer long and into fall.

Although people may give the impression that growing their own herbs requires superior knowledge of plants and a keen sense of gardening, the truth is that this mystique is without merit. Here are some practical tips to achieve amazing results:

PLANT SEEDLING, NOT SEEDS

Herbs worth trying are basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, cilantro, and lavender.

Basil: This is perhaps the easiest to grow and the one with the most appeal. Since it is growing fast, we get to see the result quickly. It’s a kind of pick-as-you-go herb, which means you can cut the fresh leaves off your plant and enjoy them with your salad or pizza.

Oregano: Its pungent, spicy and slightly bitter flavor goes well with almost any dish and oregano is so easy to grow. Once the stalks are 4 inches tall, you can start harvesting.

Parsley: In addition to its delicious flavor, parsley is a powerhouse of nutrients. Curly and flat-leaf parsley contains more vitamin C than an orange by weight.

Thyme: This grass is what summer smells like to me. It does best in full sun. For the best and most potent flavor, harvest thyme just before the plant blooms.

Coriander: Cilantro was one of the first herbs ever cultivated for culinary purposes. Start harvesting early to encourage continued growth. And, of course, pinch the flowers off the plants to preserve the flavor.

Lavender: Full sun is best. The flower spikes have the most potent fragrance just as the pretty little flowers begin to open.

PRO TIP

There are many varieties of common-sounding herbs, so read labels carefully to make sure you’re planting what you really want to grow. For example, the number of mint varieties is almost staggering!

Speaking of mint, this herb can be invasive and take over your entire garden, so it’s best to keep it in a separate container. And if you plant your herbs in containers, be sure to use a good container mix with fertilizer that will feed your plants for up to three months. Other special amendments are available with moisture control
agent that helps retain moisture and reduce watering needs.

BEWARE OF THE SUN

Herbs to plant in full sun: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, lavender, oregano, parsley, rosemary and sage.

Herbs to plant in full sun: catnip, lemon balm, sweet woodruff, mint, lemon balm and lovage.

Wendy Dubner Master is the owner of Heritage Farm & Garden in Muttontown.

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Terri S. Tomasini