herb gardcening

Herb Gardening For Beginners: How To Grow Your Own Herbs

Gardening is a popular hobby, and for good reason! In 2013, Americans spent $3.5 billion on gardening supplies. But for some who believe they have a ‘brown thumb’ gardening can feel out of reach. Herbs are a fairly common ingredient in many dishes, from steaks to spaghetti sauce. Usually, herbs can be bought dried or fresh in a store, but they’re not really all that difficult to grow yourself. Growing your own herbs is a simple, straight-forward hobby that can be done even in the big city and yields delicious, nutritious seasoning for your dishes. Here’s a quick guide on herb gardening for beginners.

Herb Gardening For Beginners

Basil, parsley, thyme, sage, and cilantro are all herbs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the same needs as one another. Cilantro and parsley tend to enjoy part shade, getting only three to four hours of sunlight every day. Basil, on the other hand, likes full sun, at least six hours of direct sunlight every day.

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Herbs also have a tendency to grow differently than one another. Some herbs, like basil and thyme, grow directly upward. Others, like mint, oregano, and marjoram grow outward, spreading as far as four feet. If your garden includes cilantro, dill, parsley, and basil, you’ll only need to space your plants one to two feet. If you’re growing rosemary, mint, or oregano, you’ll need to give them more room.

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Your herbs may also require different watering routines. Rosemary does well when it gets a bit dry, but basil is a thirstier plant, requiring a little bit more water. As long as you do your research on each herb’s needs, herb gardening will come easy to you.

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Read More: How To Grow Dill, Harvest Seeds, And More

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How to grow common herbs

Let’s talk about what some of the more common types of herbs need in order to grow into happy, healthy plants.

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Thyme

  • Perennial
  • Planting depth: 1/4 inch
  • Sun: Partial to full
  • Height: 6-24 inches
  • Spread: 10 inches
  • Soil: Fertile, plenty of compost added

Sage

  • Perennial
  • Planting depth: 1/8 inch
  • Sun: Full
  • Height: 12-48 inches
  • Spread: 30 inches
  • Soil: Fertile, plenty of compost added

Basil

  • Annual
  • Planting depth: 1/2 inch
  • Sun: Full
  • Height: 12-24 inches
  • Spread: 12 inches
  • Soil: Damp, fertile

Lavender

  • Perennial
  • Planting depth: 1/2 inch
  • Sun: Full
  • Height: 18-36 inches
  • Spread: 12-24 inches
  • Soil: Well drained

Mint

  • Perennial
  • Planting depth: 1/2 inch
  • Sun: Full
  • Height: 12-24 inches
  • Spread: Prolific, will spread continuously unless stopped
  • Soil: Damp, fertile

Dill

  • Annual
  • Self-seeds effectively
  • Planting depth: 1/4 inch
  • Sun: Full
  • Height: 36-48 inches
  • Spread: 12 inches
  • Soil: Fertile, plenty of compost added

Oregano

  • Perennial
  • Planting depth: 1/4 inch
  • Sun: Full
  • Height: 12-24 inches
  • Spread: 12-18 inches
  • Soil: Tolerates poor soil

Rosemary

  • Perennial
  • Planting depth: 1/4 inch
  • Sun: Full
  • Height: 48-72 inches
  • Spread: 12-18 inches
  • Soil: Tolerates poor soil

Chives

  • Perennial
  • Self-seeds effectively
  • Planting depth: scatter seeds on the surface of the soil
  • Sun: Full
  • Height: 6-18 inches
  • Spread: 12-18 inches
  • Soil: Fertile, damp

Parsley

  • Biennial
  • Planting depth: 1/4 inch
  • Sun: Full
  • Height:18-24 inches
  • Spread: 6-8 inches
  • Soil: Fertile, lots of added compost

Coriander

  • Annual
  • Planting depth: 1/4 inch
  • Sun: Partial
  • Height: 12-36 inches
  • Spread: 4 inches
  • Soil: Fertile, lots of added compost

Lemongrass

  • Annual
  • Planting depth: 1/4 inch
  • Sun: Partial
  • Height: 12-24 inches
  • Spread: 18 inches
  • Soil: Fertile, lots of added compost

Can you start an herb garden in containers?

Herb gardens are one of the easiest to grow in containers! Choosing long, rectangular containers gives you the opportunity to plant several herbs all in a row, giving them ample space to grow. You can also grow each herb in its own container, enabling you to tailor the care you provide each individual plant based on its unique needs. Growing herbs in containers gives you the chance to move them indoors during the winter too, allowing nearly year round growing.

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Can you herb garden indoors?

Herb gardens can be successfully grown indoors if you have a south-facing window (if you’re in the northern hemisphere) that gets lots of direct sunlight. You can also grow herbs under a lamp specifically designed for growing plants. Herbs like rosemary, for example, are perennial and will continue to grow year after year in the right conditions. Others, like basil and parsley, are annuals, meaning you will typically only get one growing season out of them. I’ve moved basil indoors before and it continues producing for an extra month or two, but tends to die off by December.

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Read More: How To Grow Basil For A Bountiful Harvest All Season

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When to harvest your herbs

Harvest time is the best time for your herb garden! Once your plants are established and have put on lots of growth, usually after a couple months, you can begin harvesting the herbs. Because you don’t typically need a great deal of herbs for a dish, your plants can be slowly harvested, picking just a few leaves or flowers at a time, based on your needs.

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We do recommend with some herbs that you trim them occasionally to yield better, fuller growth. In the case of basil, trimming off some or all of the flowers will yield more leaf growth. But if you want your basil to go to seed, let a few flowers remain! Bees love them too.

We hope our guide to herb gardening for beginners was helpful! Most of all, don’t stress out about your plants and have a good time experimenting with different growing strategies. Enjoy!

Keep Reading: 16 Plants That Repel Bugs

Thomas Nelson
Environmental Advocate
Thomas is an environmental advocate currently residing in the Pacific Northwest. In his spare time, he enjoys experiencing the outdoors, raising chickens and ducks, and reading about current environmental issues. Despite slight colorblindness, his favorite color is green.
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