Herb Gardening For Beginners – How To Start

Introduction on how to Start Herb Gardening for Beginners, Tips, Ideas, and Techniques: Herb gardens are pretty easy to start whether you want to create one for small spaces outside or you want an indoor herb garden. It has been around for centuries as people have used it first and foremost as a food source and a means of livelihood. Herbs can add a lot of flavor to a different variety of dishes and baked goods. Herbs are easy to grow in containers and need a little sunshine, watering, good soil, and a little compost or fertilizer. Commonly asked questions about herb gardening for beginners;

  • The process to start a herb garden for beginners
  • What herbs should a beginner grow
  • Planting and caring for herbs
  • How to start a herb garden
  • How long should I water my herb garden
  • The process to make a raised bed herb garden
  • Do herb plants need feeding
  • What is a herb garden
  • Tips for growing herbs
  • Tips for a successful herb garden
How To Grow Oregano Herb
Oregano (Image source: pixabay)

A guide on how to start herb gardening for beginners, tips, ideas and techniques

Herb gardening is similar to vegetable gardening with a couple of added benefits. Usually, herbs tend to be fragrant, which helps deter pests. Also, herbs are quick harvests because you are using the leaves. Also, you need to consider how much lighting your home receives. Most herbs require full sun of at least 6 to 8 hours to grow well. The key elements for a successful indoor herb garden are soil, proper watering, temperature level, humidity level, and container.

Types of herbs to grow

A herb is a plant that offers roots, seeds, flowers, or fruit as an enhancement to use for food or medicine. Herbs are used from a medicinal perspective to support the healthy functioning of several systems throughout the body.

There are two main categories of herbs. They are;

  • Culinary herbs – Some examples of culinary herbs are Oregano, Basil, and Cilantro, etc., to provide fresh and flavorful ingredients to spice up favorite dishes.
  • Medicinal herbs – Some examples of medicinal herbs are Chamomile, Calendula, and Echinacea, etc., which can be made into teas, tinctures, and lotions, etc. Healing herbs can be used for health and wellness purposes.

Herb gardening ideas for beginners

Window Sill Garden – A window sill is also called a window box garden that dresses up the outside of your house. Putting a herb garden outside your kitchen window gives easy access to fresh herbs.

Hanging Herb Garden – Hanging herb garden gives them more flexibility. It also provides better drainage and enhances air circulation. The containers used for hanging herb gardens do tend to dry out more quickly.

Vertical Gardening – Vertical herb gardening is both decorative and practical. Vertical gardens are freestanding with 2 to 5 or more tiers for planter boxes. Vertical herb gardening has many like decorating the walls and roofs in various styles. Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Marjoram, and Mint are some popular herbs for vertical gardens.

Container Gardens – Herb plants will grow in almost any type of container and make sure it has good drainage. You can choose the size and types of pots like terra cotta, plastic, metal, or ceramic planters work as long as they have holes for drainage.

Indoor Herb Garden – Many herb plants can be grown indoors so if you don’t have outdoor space or a balcony, you’ll be able to grow herbs indoors. Ideally, you could want to keep your herb garden in the kitchen so you can cook and bake and have quick and easy access to fresh, homegrown herbs. To grow indoors, herbs require a lot of natural sunlight. We’re talking at least 6 hours a day for most herbs. You can set up a herb garden in a room if your kitchen doesn’t receive a lot of natural light.

Outdoor Herb Garden – You have several benefits for growing herbs outdoors. Make sure you select a sunny space for your herb garden with full sun and rich soil, which will make an ideal place to plant your herb garden. You can plant herbs in a raised bed and fill the raised beds with high-quality soil that herbs need to thrive in the raised bed gardens.

Pick the right plants for herb gardening

Most herb plants can be grown indoors or grown in containers. Best herbs for indoor gardening include Basil, Chives, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, and Thyme.

You can grow herbs from seed or cuttings, which are a branch of an existing plant, cut at the node and then soaked in water until new roots sprout. Though, you may find it much easier and faster to start your indoor garden with seedlings from a garden shop.

Choose your container for growing herbs

Once you select what herbs are required for your herb garden, you want to find the right container for growing herbs. Herbs growing in a container will be beneficial in several ways.

Herb plants don’t require much maintenance and allow you to move them indoors. Placing herbs in individual containers is aesthetically pleasing as you can put them in different variety of containers like;

  • Colored ceramic pots
  • Vases
  • Metal boxes
  • Wooden boxes

You can select a bigger pot or container and plant herbs with similar growing requirements together.

Select a Container with Drainage – There are different types of pots for growing herbs. You can plant herbs in just about any container but it has some type of drainage. For growing herbs, make sure to place a layer of pebbles in the bottom to catch excess moisture so your potting soil doesn’t get saturated.

You can use anything for a herb container, as long as it has good drainage. Herbs don’t have large root systems, so you can get away with small containers. This is true of the herbs that don’t mind drying out between watering. Some herbs like Chives, Parsley, Marjoram, and Mint are good candidates for growing in self-watering pots as they like a constant level of moisture. Other herbs are not good candidates for self-watering containers like Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, and Basil, prefer to dry out between watering.

Some herbs suitable for shade or partial sun

The herb plants thrive more when they receive almost 4 to 6 hours of sunlight every day. Also, they require more consistent watering as opposed to their full-sun counterparts. A few of these herb plants are Parsley, Mint, Cilantro, Lemon Balm, Chives, and Tarragon.

It is possible to grow herbs with less than ideal moisture and light conditions. Do not allow less than ideal conditions to stop you from starting your organic herb garden.

Soil requirement for herb gardening for beginners

Some herbs are particular about soil conditions. But, most simply want well-draining soil. You’ll want to ensure that you have good drainage if you grow herbs in containers, so creating drainage holes at the bottom of the container is an important consideration.

A good method to improve soil drainage is to add organic matter or compost around herbs. Do this before planting. For growing herbs in the ground, simply place a layer of compost around herbs and carefully mix it with the soil by using a pitchfork. Again, the soil is the key to growing herb plants. You can cut a standard potting soil with sand or gravel to ensure proper drainage. You can quickly kill potted herb plants by leaving their feet wet. A good method to avoid this problem is to use a mist sprayer to give your herbs just a taste of water now and then without drowning them. Then, this will allow you to give them a deep watering less frequently.

Soil mixes for herb plants will hold require nutrients for growth, drain water well, and will provide aeration to herb roots. For container herb gardening, using high-quality soil, you will be able to avoid any soil-borne diseases or potential garden soil contamination. Beware that several brands of container soil that are available in large and small retailers alike comprise chemical fertilizers that are not suitable for organic herb gardening.

Best indoor soil mix or soil for your herb plants – The herb plants growing indoors needs a potting mix that provides additional drainage. When selecting a potting mix, look at the label and it is suitable for indoor garden plants. If you have a soil potting mix that seems heavy, you can add some perlite or vermiculite to the mix. Vermiculite will hold the water in a little more if you have a very dry climate condition.

Make your potting mix blend by using coco peat or peat moss, perlite, and coarse sand. This is an economical solution to commercially prepared blends and it modifies the ingredients to better suit the herbs you are growing.

Sunlight requirements for herb gardening for beginners

All herb plants need light. But, different plants need varying degrees of sunlight. Some herbs want to be in the hot sun all day, while other plants will turn a yellow color and droop with more than a few hours of direct sunlight. You will want to know if herb garden spot gets;

  • Full sun requirement about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight
  • Partial sun means a combination of morning, afternoon, or evening sun
  • No direct sunlight

Don’t worry about being exact. Make sure to note how much sunlight your garden area receives. Some popular sun-loving herbs are Basil, Echinacea, Oregano, Stevia, Lavender, and Thyme. They will thrive in a warm, sunny spot that gets 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight every day. And for those needing shade-loving herb plants to grow, you can include these in your garden are Mint, Chives, Parsley, Lemon Balm, and Cilantro. You don’t need complete shade for these herbs to thrive and they will do quite well in morning or evening sun and afternoon shade.

Temperature requirement for herb gardening

Temperature is another important factor for growing herb plants. Herbs grow well if the temperature is between 18 to 21°C in most home environments. Some plants need a dormant period.

If the plant leaves are touching the glass, they could burn as the glass heats up with the reflected sunlight. In homes with drafty windows, it can get too cold directly next to the window. The main remedy for this problem is by adding insulation to your windows.

Growing herbs from seed

Herb plants can be challenging to grow from seed. Most herb plants are easy to grow from seed. Also, planting seeds is cheaper than buying transplants. You can create a greenhouse effect by covering the container by using plastic wrap until the seeds sprout. Nurseries carry a different variety of culinary and medicinal plants. There are a few herbs that do quite well grow from seed. Some of the herbs growing from seed include;

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Chives
  • Oregano
  • Chamomile
  • Calendula

Start your herb seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before the last frost date. Keep the soil moist as wait for sprouts to appear.

Annual and Perennial herbs for beginners

Annual herbs for beginners are;

  • Basil
  • Borage
  • Chamomile
  • Chervil
  • Cilantro/coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Lemon balm
  • Marjoram
  • Stevia

Perennial herbs for beginners are;

  • Chives
  • Ginger
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Biennial (every two years)

  • Parsley

Raised bed herb garden for beginners

A raised bed garden can provide the perfect environmental conditions for creating a herb garden. It can be located anywhere that suits you and can be maintained easily.

General mixed compost with a neutral pH level is suitable for herb cultivation. Try to avoid high nitrogen feeds and improvers since these will promote fast development at the expense of the delicate herb flavor. Some herbs like well-drained soil so are sure to incorporate plenty of organic matter. Common example herb plants grown in raised beds are Basil, Rosemary, Parsley, Chives, Tarragon, Sage, Oregano, and Thyme. A raised bed does not have to be deep to be effective. Usually, about 8 to 12 inches is adequate.

Raised bed herb garden improves plant growing conditions by lifting their roots above poor soil. The soil used in the raised bed garden can be amended to provide a better growing medium for plants. The soil used in raised bed gardens warms up earlier in the spring season. Also, the height of raised beds can make them easier to maintain.

Tips for herb gardening for beginners

In case if you miss this: Vegetable Gardening Tips, Ideas, and Techniques.

Rosemary herb
Rosemary herb (pic source: pixabay)

To get fragrant and delicious herbs in a few weeks and then follow the herb gardening tips;

  • Herbs need well-drained soil-potting soil mixed with a little fertilizer or compost is ideal-and at least 6 hours of sun.
  • The potting soil you plant herbs in will be its foundation.
  • Herb plants will do best in potting soil that holds water. Prepare the location for planting by loosening the soil. If the soil is compacted or consists of heavy clay, improve drainage by adding some compost, peat moss, or coarse sand for growing herbs.
  • Most herbs thrive in typical garden soil and it has good drainage.
  • Most herb plants thrive in full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day).
  • Water Regularly – Give the new transplants plenty of water is an important consideration. Herb plants get an inch of water each week.
  • Herb garden needs the basics that a regular garden needs like 6 to 8 hours of sunlight, good soil, fertilizers, and consistent watering. Though, you can grow many herbs in smaller containers, which make them ideal for a windowsill or vertical gardens.
  • An easy method to get started with your garden is to purchase starter plants from your local nursery and plant them in your garden in the spring season. It can be difficult to find a nursery that hasn’t already treated its starter plants with chemicals.
  • The best method to ensure that your garden starts chemical-free is to grow your starter plants. Most herb plants are easily grown from seed. Plant your herb seeds indoors in shallow containers a month or so before the start of spring. Use a well-drained soil designed for seedlings and make sure not to plant the seeds too deeply.
  • Generally, the bigger the seed, the deeper you should sow them. Some herbs such as Coriander and Fennel don’t transplant well so it is best to sow them directly in your garden.
  • Even young herb plants need frequent clipping to encourage them to branch out and become fuller. So make sure to prune but don’t cut more than a third off. If herbs are flowering, they are not being pruned regularly enough. The more you prune the plant, the more it will grow.

Growing Herbs in Pots for Beginners

Herbs perform well in the ground and are wonderful additions to your vegetable or flower garden, and many growers prefer growing herbs in containers. It is easy to control soil conditions in a container, and you will be able to tailor the water to your plants’ needs. Just be sure to choose plant varieties with the same growing requirements when planting herbs together.

Herb plants will grow in almost any type of container as long as it has good drainage. Terra cotta pots are best, but plastic, wood, or metal will do for growing herbs. If you aren’t using a traditional-style container, make sure to poke some holes for drainage if you are keeping them indoors.

Help container herbs thrive with the right soil, sun exposure, and fertilizer. Use a high-quality potting mix for herb gardening that allows for good drainage. This soil will help prevent accidental drowning of your herb plants. Moreover, most herbs need full sun for at least 6 to 8 hours a day. It is important not to over-fertilize your herb plants. Herbs don’t need much fertilizer, and plants will simply die if they are overfed. If the herbs are given too much food or water and they aren’t as tasty.

How to start an organic herb garden

In an organic herb garden, we are using only organic certified materials and avoiding non-certified ones. Then, you’re in control, there are no surprise chemicals, and being in control of herbs is so easy. This means well-drained neutral soil, and preferably with some organic matter like compost or manure. Herbs can be grown generally from seed or propagated from cuttings, divisions, or layering. Tarragon, Chives, and Mint are grown from division. Lavender, Sage, Lemon Balm, and Rosemary can be grown from cuttings. Most herbs need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, so you have adequate space near a south-facing window for wintertime.

Feeding Your Growing Herbs

It is important to plant your herbs in high-quality potting soil. Once herbs are planted, you will make sure to regularly water these plants, especially in the summer season. If you select to keep your herb garden outdoors, a good garden hose will help you easily water all your herb plants and other plants while saving you time.

Apply general-purpose liquid fertilizer to keep herbs leafy. Also, apply an occasional dose of liquid seaweed, as the trace elements improve flavor in herbs. Herbs are low-maintenance plants unless you’re growing them in containers.

Select the herbs for your herb garden

Firstly, you need to pick what herbs you’d like to grow. You can start with seeds or starter plants, depending on your preference. There is a different variety of herbs to choose from for your herb garden for beginners, including;

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Mint
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Tarragon
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Lemon balm
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Parsley
  • Chives

Water requirement for herb gardening for beginners

  • Some herb plants want to be watered daily, while others need time to dry out between watering. Thyme, Peppermint, and Oregano plants like to be watered more frequently while Borage, Echinacea, and Sage don’t like too much water.
  • As you get to know these herb plants better, you’ll quickly grasp what they need and when. It is best to give your herb plants a big drink of water right after planting them.
  • It is a good idea when just getting started with herbs to keep a few notes on how your plants like to be watered. Then, this will make it easier to develop a watering routine based on each herb’s needs.
  • A good rule of thumb for most herb plants is to water about once per week. During extreme heat or drought conditions, sometimes twice per week will be required. Water in the morning between 6 – 10 am, to avoid evaporation and then allow for deep root soaking.
  • If they are growing herbs in pots, they must be watered every 2 to 3 days. The best method to check if your herbs need to be watered is to feel the soil.
  • All plants need regular watering, although certain herb plants need more water than others. The majority of herb plants need water when the soil feels dry to the touch.

When and how to harvest herbs from your garden

When it comes to harvesting your herb plants, the more plants you pick, the more plants you will get to harvest often. It is also important to harvest before your herbs start flowering because you’ll get more flavorful, better-tasting herbs before the plants start to flower so check how much they’re yielding.

Remember not to remove more than one-third of the plant to ensure that it will keep growing. When harvesting, just pinch off individual plant leaves, not the whole stalk. Remember to pinch back after harvesting. Begin harvesting from the herbs as soon as they are mature, but take a little bit each time you harvest. If you remove more than a third of the plant at one time, and it takes longer to recover and produce new foliage. To promote branching, keep the tops of the plants pinched back in the early summer season.

All you need to do is remove a small top portion of each stem every week carefully. Pinching and harvesting do not damage herb plants. Harvest herbs early in the morning. Make sure to harvest herb plants before flowering.

Commonly asked questions about herb gardening

How About This: Keys To Successful Farming, Tips, Ideas, and Techniques.

Growing Thyme Herb
Thyme Herb ( Pic source: pixabay)

Do herb gardens need full sun?

Most herb plants need a fair amount of sunlight. Herbs grow well if the plant gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.

Why are my herb plants dying?

The main reason for herbs dying is because of root rot which is mainly caused by overwatering, slow-draining soil, and pots without drainage holes in the base. Because of excess moisture around the roots, plants suffer root rot which causes herbs to turn yellow color, droop, and die back.

How do you harvest and clean herbs?

With annual herbs, they can be cut back 50-75% and still recover. Remove one-third of the growth at any one time for perennial herb plants. Use a sharp knife or pruners to make clean cuts in herb plants. Try to harvest early in the day after herb plants dry off and before it gets hot.

How do you keep herbs fresh after harvesting?

After harvesting, gently wash the herbs and then dry them by using paper towels. Remove any dead or damaged material. Then, tie the herbs in loose bunches that allow for good air circulation around each bunch.

Why is my potted thyme dying?

The reason for thyme plants dying is because of root rot or fungal diseases. These diseases are mainly caused by excess moisture around the roots due to overwatering or slow draining soils. Thyme plants can begin to die back, dry out and turn brown color after 4 or 5 years.

How do I make my herb garden successful?

Most herbs adore sunshine, so pick a place that gets a generous amount of sun daily. At least 6 hours of sunlight is necessary for healthy growth. The ideal location differs based on the specific herb. Some herbs like it hot weather conditions and others prefer a bit of shade.

Are herbs good for beginners?

Basil, Chives, Parsley, and Thyme are great herbs for beginners. Growing herb plants is easy to process and a great starting place for new gardeners.

What herbs grow well in raised beds?

Raised beds can give you the space to grow a broad selection of tasty culinary herbs. Some herbs that grow well in raised beds are Basil, Tarragon, Sage, Rosemary, Parsley, Chives, Oregano, and Thyme.

Where should I plant my herb garden?

Pick the location for your herb garden is very important. Any spot that gets about 6 hours of sun a day is good for plant growth. Plant the herbs in small containers if you have space in front of a kitchen window.


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