Fresh herbs from your own garden have more flavor than dried herbs, or even the so-called fresh herbs which have been plucked, packaged, and sitting on a grocery store shelf for a while. If you?ve never grown herbs or edible plants, the thought of growing your own might seem too complicated to try, but it?s really not. It can be done quite inexpensively, too.
Why Grow Your Own
In addition to the stronger flavor you get from using fresh herbs in your meals and drinks, you?ll enjoy a few other benefits. Having a garden of herbs just out your door or on your windowsill is far more convenient than driving to the store to buy them. Plus you won?t have to pay the a few dollars for a tiny package every time you wish to use a certain herb. You?ll probably use them more often when they?re right at your fingertips.
As is the case with many foods, herbs such as cilantro, basil, and oregano have the best health benefits when used freshed. Tending your garden, watching your herbs grow, and smelling their amazing scents are such calming, stress-relieving activities. Finally, you can rest easy knowing your herbs haven?t been sprayed with dangerous chemicals. Ready to get started?
When you start an indoor herb garden, you can invest in a hydroponic kit or use regular planters. Lots of people get creative with the containers they use for indoor herb gardens because they?re as decorative as they are functional. For example, you could plant them in mason jars or other small planters and label each one. Earth friendly herb gardens reuse items you probably have on hand, such as milk cartons, wine crates, and tea tins. One benefit of an indoor garden is not having to worry about seasons or needing to dry herbs for winter use.
Some things to remember: Choose a spot near a window that gets several hours of light every day, but not so hot that it will burn your plants. Follow the spacing guidelines on seed packets if you?re including more than one plant per container. Be sure the planter has adequate drainage. Some herbs do better than others in very moist soil, but too much moisture can eventually cause the roots to rot.
Outside you have the choice of planting your herbs in a container or putting them in the ground. Large strawberry pots are great for outdoor herb gardens. You can plant several different herbs in the same pot. Alternately, choose a plot of space for a ground garden. The consideration for planting are similar to those of an indoor garden. You must ensure the plants can flourish in your chosen spot.
Does the area have good drainage? Does it get sunshine most of the day? Fortunately, bugs tend to avoid most herbs, so you won?t have to worry about any six-legged invaders. Again, be sure to follow the instructions for space from the package.
Harvesting Your Herbs
Wait for your plants to grow six to eight inches before you harvest them or you?ll risk killing the plant. Knowing when a plant is ready to use really depends on which herb it is. For example, chives can be cut fresh as they?re growing. Dill should be plucked right as the flowers open. When harvesting thyme, you cut the leaves and flower clusters when the blossoms first open. Look up the prefered harvesting time for the specific herbs you?re planting.
If you want to dry your herbs, you have many options. Keep in mind that drying herbs reduces their flavor. You must choose healthy plants so the taste is optimal when you dry them. Work in small amounts so you can dry them immediately. Use sharp shears so you get a clean cut and help prevent the introduction of disease to your plant. Herbs can be dried using several methods, such as hanging in bundles.
You can start an herb garden any time for very little investment. Tending your garden will even save you money spent buying herbs over the long run. You may even have a little extra to share with friends.