Create your own herb garden from seed. The effort required is minimal, and you will enjoy the benefits all year round.
Buy appropriate containers, potting soil and sand. The choice of herb seeds is great, but try basil, thyme, marjoram, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, parsley and chives. While you’re at it, you can even test your green thumb growing strawberries and raspberries in pots.
First, put broken tiles or ordinary pebbles in the bottom of the containers you have chosen (suitable pots, and deeper boxes). Then fill the container a little more than half full of a good quality potting soil and sprinkle seeds evenly on top.
Cover with a thin layer of sand and topsoil and gently pat down and thoroughly soak. Use a fine mist so that you don’t flood out the tiny seeds. Keep the soil damp and be patient as the seeds will emerge slowly. (Check germination times on the individual seed packets).
Keep the soil damp, but not drenched, and the pots in a warm and sunny location indoors.
When the plants emerge and have grown a few inches, consider whether they need thinning to allow all roots to obtain adequate nutrients from the soil. Continue to water regularly, do not allow the tiny plants to wilt, but do not soak the soil so much that the roots are standing in water.
Late May or early June are usually suitable for taking the plants outdoors in their pots, or transplanting them in your garden. It is best to take them outside for a few hours per day at first to “harden them off” to the sun and night’s coolness. If the wind is strong, find a sheltered spot for them, and mulch the soil to prevent the wind from drying out the soil. Herbs need watering daily.
As they grow taller and bushier, you can start enjoying your fresh herbs! You can pick the fresh leaves as you need them, or cut the entire stem of the plant, harvesting by thinning, allowing the surrounding plants more room to grow.
In the late summer, think about harvesting and drying your herbs for winter. Cut the stems at ground level, gently rinse them to eliminate any bugs or soil, hang them upside down by the stems to dry, or spread them out on top of clean sheets on a countertop until they are thoroughly dried. You can store dried herbs in jars and some, such as parsley and dill even do well in frozen storage.
Did you know some of the specific benefits of herbs include:
Thyme – Thyme tea is very good for the respiratory system for coughs, bronchitis, and sore throats. Its antiseptic action also helps with skin irritations.
Oregano – Strengthens the bowel and stimulates appetite. Oregano contains stronger antioxidants than apples.
Lavender – Calms nervous excitement and migraine headaches. It also helps with insomnia. In the summer it repels mosquitoes, and as a dried herb, it protects from moths.
Basil – The third main ingredient of tomato and mozzarella salad. Basil is useful for problems with the gums and prevents inflammation in the urinary and respiratory systems.
Mint – A great addition to summer cocktails, or just enjoy it as a refreshing iced tea. It also helps with stomach pain and intestinal complaints.
Rosemary – Acts as a general support for the body and to eliminate accumulated stress and mental fatigue.
Fennel – A tea made from fennel seed soothes colicky babies.
And, of course, all of these herbs are used primarily as spices in the kitchen. It is wonderful to have a variety of fresh herbs for your favorite recipes or to experiment with in your cooking, they provide flavor and additional vitamins. It all depends on your preference and taste.
Congratulations! You will feel a great sense of satisfaction because you have grown them yourself!