Spring has officially sprung, which means now is the perfect time to put your green thumb to use and create your very own herb garden. The good news is herbs are among the easiest plants to grow. Different varieties thrive in different conditions, but with a small amount of maintenance most people will be able to grow household staples such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, mint, basil and oregano in their own backyard.
Here are some helpful tips to get you started.
To pot or not
Herbs are much happier in pots than most houseplants, but if you’re lucky enough to have space for a garden it’s best to plant them in the ground. Some herbs can eventually grow quite large and a pot may stunt the plant and cause stress.
If space is limited, however, most herbs will survive in a pot with well-drained soil and a warm, sunny position. You can also use troughs, window boxes or hanging boxes – be inventive with the space you have.
Pick your position
Most herbs need at least six hours of sunlight each day in order to thrive, so full sun is best. However, if you live in a particularly warm climate, consider placing your herbs in an area that gets the morning sun but is shady in the afternoons. Some herbs, such as parsley, mint and coriander, will grow in shade even in cooler areas.
Prepare your soil
If you’re preparing a garden bed, loosen compacted soil with a large garden fork. This helps the soil drain and creates space for growing roots. Organic matter, compost and manure will also help condition the soil and reduce the need for any additional fertilisers.
If your herbs are in pots, use quality potting mix and be sure there are plenty of drainage holes.
Once you’ve planted your herbs, keep the soil moist until they are established. Most varieties should be watered once the soil a few centimetres beneath the surface is dry. Check the soil before watering as it’s equally important not to over-water your plants.
When your herbs have plenty of leaves, it’s time to start cooking. Don’t hold back – you can pick up to a third of the foliage and harvesting promotes further growth.
A DIY herb garden will not only look great in your backyard, it helps cut down grocery costs and reduces food wastage. But the best part is the satisfaction of being able to snip off exactly what you need and enjoy organic, home-grown flavours – it doesn’t get much tastier than that.