Brighten up your yard—and add a shot of flavor to your cooking—by planting an herb garden.
Illustration by Aldo Crusher
Spring has (almost) sprung, and bulbs will bloom soon. But even if you misplaced your green thumb, there’s an easy—and delicious—way to get your garden started: Grow herbs! Here are some simple tips for beginners.
Thyme, rosemary, oregano, lemon verbena, and mint are all hardy, low-maintenance perennials that are simple to maintain all year long. Parsley is also easygoing, but it requires annual planting.
Room to Grow
Some herbs need more space than others. For example, rosemary and lemon verbena often develop into tall shrubs, and mint tends to spread wildly. To prevent an herbaceous takeover, consider designating individual pots for these prolific growers. Thyme and oregano, meanwhile, like to sprawl out, so they work well in wider beds.
Let It Flow
Every plant needs a little H2O, and herbs are no different. Ideally, you should water two to three times per week—and make sure your herb garden receives a good soaking. Let the soil dry out a bit in between irrigations.
While planting outdoors is generally best, herbs are not terribly picky: They can grow just fine in your kitchen—as long as they get enough direct sunlight. So, if they’re inside, set them in front of the sunniest window.
Once you’re comfortable with the basics, you can expand your herbal horizons. Many nurseries in the area, such as Oakland Garden Supply and Lafayette’s Orchard Nursery and Florist, offer a variety of culinary herbs. Sweet basil is always popular, but consider other types such as lime, lemon, and holy basil, too.
Harvesting is just like pruning: It allows the plant to regenerate and quickly produce new growth. Using your herbs right after harvesting allows for the freshest and best flavors. But if you want to save some clippings, use a dehydrator to preserve them for a future meal.