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Tips for Starting an Herb Garden

If you’re looking for ways to bring a little color and life into your abode after a long and dreary
winter, try planting an herb garden. It’s quick, simple, and totally delicious! Not only do fresh
herbs provide a pleasing aroma, but they also pack flavor into every dish you make without the
expense and hassle of a trip to the grocery store. Even if you don’t have a naturally green thumb,
herbs can be very easy to plant and maintain with the right preparation and care.

MATERIALS

A good gardener needs the right tools, so before anything else, you need to take a trip to
the store. Pots, window boxes, and other planters come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Use
whatever is appropriate for the size of your space or the number of herbs you want to plant.
Typical potting soils work perfectly well for both herbs and flowers, but be sure to grab a
container of plant food as well. Look for an extended release formula. That way, you only have
to add plant food a few times each year.

Of course, you can’t have an herb garden without the herbs themselves. Ready-to- pot
plants are easier to get started than seeds and you won’t have to wait very long before harvesting
your first fresh herbs. Plants at grocery stores are less hardy; be sure to only buy plants from a
proper garden center. Some popular herbs for patio and balcony gardens include rosemary,
mint, sage, oregano, marjoram, basil, thyme, tarragon, cilantro, lemon balm, lavender, chives,
and dill.

Last, you will need a few accessories such as gardening gloves, spades or trowels, and a
watering can. Don’t be afraid to ask the professionals at your local gardening store for help. They
can advise you on which plants might grow best and any special care techniques for that specific
variety.

PLANTING

Now that you have the materials and tools, it’s time to play in the dirt. First, set up your
pots and planters. Some plants such as rosemary, sage, oregano, basil, thyme, and lavender need
full sunlight to thrive. Mint and chives prefer a mixture of shade and sun. You may have to move
plants around for the first few days to find the optimal spots.

Now you want to mix the soil and plant food. Follow the instructions for herb gardens
and measure your amounts carefully. Some plants may be grown together while others should be
separated. Mint and sage can easily overtake other herbs and need their own containers. If you
do plant multiple plants in the same pot, pick varieties that need similar care. For example,
rosemary, thyme, and tarragon need dryer soil and full sunlight while basil and lemon balm
prefer excess moisture.

CARE & MAINTENANCE

Potted plants will dry out quicker than in-ground gardens. Be sure to water when the soil
feels dry to the touch. Many plants cannot tolerate overwatering so be sure every pot has proper
drainage. Place saucers under pots to reduce chances of a muddy mess leaking onto your patio.
Herbs will need regular trimming to stay healthy and grow. Don’t leave wilted or diseased
looking leaves to affect the rest of the plant. A good rule of thumb is to harvest 1/3 of the
branches when the plants reach between 6-8” tall. Cut close to the intersection of the leaf and
main stalk. Always use scissors or a knife and cut herbs while in the sunlight. This helps them
regrow quickly. With a little bit of preparation and care, you can be enjoying fresh herbs from
your own balcony or patio garden in no time.