Easy, inexpensive, tasty, healthy.
Choose the plants. These herbs are easy to grow and versatile in cooking: oregano, basil, cilantro, chives, mint, lemon balm, thyme, rosemary, parsley and sage. Which ones do you like? Those are the ones to buy. Some stores have variations, like “chocolate mint,” “lemon basil” or “spicy hot oregano.” Store clerks are usually agreeable if you ask for a tiny taste. Also, you can give them the “sniff test.”
Choose the container. My first herb garden was planted in six, gallon-sized, plastic pots. You can see in the images the nicer containers I picked for subsequent herb gardens.
Fill with soil. Choose good quality potting soil or garden mulch.
Place plants, evenly spaced in container, and smooth out the soil. Some herbs, like mint, grow like weeds and try to take over. If they do, just pinch the wayward stems off and make some relaxing tea. Or plant them in a separate container. I used a permanent marker to write on plastic spoons to label the plants I gave to a friend so she could identify them. My own plants are like friends. I know their names well, so they are not labeled.
Scroll down to see how to care for your garden.
Your herb garden can go anywhere that has six or more hours of sun – in a window, on a back porch or even inside with a grow lamp. For convenience, keep it near the kitchen, because when you are cooking, you will want to only take a few steps to get to your delicious herb
Caring for Your Garden
Water frequently if there is not enough rain. Container gardens dry out faster than in-ground gardens. However, they close to your back door or in your window, so it’s quick and easy. I just stick my finger in the soil to see if they need water. The cute pottery worm in the round container garden changes to a lighter color when the plants need water.
Fertilize according to package directions. I use organic fertilizer on plants that I eat. It doesn’t cost much as the garden is tiny and doesn’t need much.
Harvest them just before using them in cooking. Once you get to know your plants, you will learn the best way to harvest them. Some plants, like thyme, have lots of stems. I just pinch off several stems each time I need them. They grow back nicely. My rosemary only has four stems, so I just pinch off some leaves when I need them. There are fancy herb scissors and strippers on Amazon. I just use my fingers to pinch off the herb or pull off the leaves. If the stem is soft, it can be chopped up. If the stem is woody, strip the leaves off the stem.
Enjoy them in your recipes. Place the herbs on a cutting board and then chop in all different directions until the pieces are tiny. For use in recipes, use 3 parts fresh herb in place of 1 part dried herb. Fresh herbs can either be used during cooking or added at the end. It’s OK to be creative. In most recipes you can substitute one herb for another. The flavor will be a bit different, but the meal will turn out fine.