Are you looking to enhance the flavors of your homemade meals? Starting an herb garden can be the perfect project for you this spring.
Whether you have a backyard, porch planters, or a window box, growing your own fresh herbs makes it easier to add that extra burst of flavor.
Before you begin, it’s important to understand the best growing conditions, choose a gardening method, and decide whether to start with seeds or live plants.
The options are plentiful, with culinary, medicinal, and fragrant herbs available. Additionally, herb gardens can be tailored to your preferences, space limitations, and available resources.
In this guide, I’ll provide some ideas to start your spring herb garden.
Ideal Growing Conditions
Before selecting your favorite herbs, ensure that you provide the right conditions for them to thrive.
Most herbs need full sun, which means they require at least 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Make sure you choose a location that receives ample sunlight throughout the day, even after trees have fully leafed out.
In addition to sunlight, herbs need well-draining soil. If your garden soil doesn’t drain well, consider amending it with organic matter like compost. Alternatively, you can opt for raised beds or containers to ensure proper drainage. Most herbs prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
Different herbs have varying water requirements. Basil, for example, needs more water compared to other herbs. If you plan to place your herb garden in a dry area, like near the curb or around a mailbox, consider choosing herbs with lower water needs, such as sage.
Specific water requirements for each herb can be found below. To create a garden with minimal water needs, you can explore xeriscaping in our dedicated article.
Read More: How to Harvest Basil Leaves
Choosing the right gardening method depends on providing the necessary conditions for your herbs to thrive. Here are some suggestions with their pros and cons:
In the Landscape
- Pros: Herbs can serve as decorative plantings, accommodate a variety of plants, and create borders. It’s often the most cost-effective option.
- Cons: Requires labor to dig garden soil and amend heavy clay or waterlogged soils.
- Pros: Provides accessibility, allows for a large selection of herbs, easier control of soil drainage, and no digging required. DIY options are available.
- Cons: Not suitable for arid climates, requires purchasing or installing raised beds and soil.
- Pros: Accommodates a wide variety of herbs in a small space, helps control soil drainage, and offers an attractive design. It can be installed in-ground or above ground.
- Cons: Requires installation and may need repurposed stones or bricks.
- Pros: Quick to install, easy to move to the best location, can be brought indoors for overwintering, and allows for combining different herbs in the same container. It comes in various sizes.
- Cons: Containers may dry out quickly, with limited herb selection due to smaller space.
- Pros: Ideal for apartments or condos without a yard, enhances the visual appeal of your surroundings, and can be brought indoors for overwintering.
- Cons: Window boxes may dry out quickly, limited herb selection due to smaller space.
Arrangement of Potted Herbs
- Pros: Quick installation, inexpensive, easy to move around, and can be brought indoors for overwintering. It can be combined with flowers for a visually appealing display.
- Cons: Pots may dry out quickly.
Consider these options and explore our comprehensive guide on growing herbs in pots and containers for more information.
Read More: 9 MUST HAVE SUCCULENT PLANTERS
Seeds or Live Plants
When starting your herb garden, you have two options: seeds or live plants.
- Seeds: Many herbs can be grown from seeds. Some seeds can be started indoors, where you plant them in pots and later transplant them to the garden. Other seeds can be directly sown into the soil in your garden.
- Live Plants: Alternatively, you can purchase live herb plants from a nursery or garden center. These plants are already grown and ready to be planted directly into your garden.
Consider your preference and convenience when deciding whether to start with seeds or live plants for your herb garden.
Herbs to Include
When planning your herb garden, consider the various uses of herbs, such as cooking, herbal teas, and medicinal purposes. Some herbs are also grown for their fragrance or ornamental value.
Many herbs have multiple uses and can be harvested starting in early spring. Some herbs are perennials or self-seed readily.
Choose herbs that you enjoy and want to experiment with. Here are some excellent herb choices for your spring garden:
This fast-growing herb is a staple in Italian cuisine and adds a fresh and aromatic touch to dishes like pasta, salads, and bruschetta. It is especially famous for its role in making delicious homemade pesto sauce.
In addition to its culinary uses, basil is also believed to have antibacterial and antioxidant properties, making it a healthy choice for your meals.
Read More: How To Store Basil
With its distinct flavor, bay laurel leaves are commonly used to enhance the taste of soups, stews, and slow-cooked dishes. It also makes for an attractive ornamental shrub in gardens, and its hardiness in Zone 8 makes it suitable for different climates.
The leaves of bay laurel can be dried and used in wreaths, potpourri, and sachets, adding a pleasant aroma to your home.
Known for its soothing properties, chamomile is often brewed into a calming herbal tea that helps with relaxation and sleep.
Additionally, chamomile possesses medicinal qualities, such as anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effects. Besides its calming effects, chamomile tea is known to aid digestion and promote relaxation.
This low-maintenance herb adds a mild onion-like flavor to various dishes, including salads, omelets, and soups, and features beautiful purple flowers that can be used as edible garnishes.
It is a versatile herb that adds taste and aesthetic appeal to meals. The vibrant purple flowers of chives are not only visually appealing but also attract beneficial pollinators to your garden, supporting a healthy ecosystem.
Read More: How to Grow Basil from Seed
Cold-tolerant and bursting with flavor, cilantro is a must-have herb in Mexican, Asian, and Indian cuisines. It lends a fresh and citrusy taste to salsas, guacamole, curries, and other spicy dishes, making it a popular choice among food enthusiasts.
Cilantro is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like potassium and manganese, providing a nutritional boost to your dishes.
Highly aromatic and versatile, dill is known for its feathery leaves and seeds that add a distinctive tang to pickles, seafood, potato salad, and dips.
It complements dishes with its unique flavor profile, providing a refreshing and slightly sweet taste. Dill leaves can be used to infuse oils and vinegar, adding a delightful flavor to salad dressings and marinades.
Beyond its enchanting fragrance, lavender flowers can be used to make fragrant teas, lemonades, syrups, and even baked goods like lavender-infused cookies.
It adds a subtle floral note to culinary creations and creates a calming atmosphere. Lavender essential oil derived from flowers is commonly used in aromatherapy to reduce stress and promote better sleep.
Read More: How To Grow Succulents
With its refreshing and cooling properties, mint is a go-to herb for beverages like mojitos, iced teas, and infused water.
It comes in various varieties like spearmint and peppermint, each imparting its own refreshing flavor to drinks and desserts. Mint leaves have a cooling sensation that can help soothe indigestion and freshen your breath.
This versatile herb not only adds a vibrant pop of green as a garnish but also offers a bright and herbaceous flavor to dishes like tabbouleh, roasted vegetables, and soups.
It is packed with vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious meal addition. Aside from its culinary uses, parsley is also believed to have diuretic properties and may support kidney health.
With its distinctive aroma and robust flavor, rosemary is a popular herb for seasoning roasted meats, poultry, potatoes, and bread. Its evergreen nature and ability to withstand different climates make it an ideal herb for both culinary and ornamental purposes.
This herb contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, which may contribute to overall health and well-being.
Read More: How to Propagate Basil
This low-growing perennial herb is renowned for its earthy and slightly minty taste, making it a versatile ingredient for savory dishes such as roasted vegetables, sauces, and meat marinades.
It also serves as a ground cover, adding beauty to garden landscapes. Due to its antimicrobial properties, Thyme has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for coughs, sore throats, and respiratory issues.
Select the herbs that appeal to your taste and meet your gardening conditions, and enjoy the benefits of fresh herbs in your meals and beyond.