Ready to get back outside? Yesterday we kicked off Outdoor Week by showing you 5 Ways To Perk Up Your Patio. And for Day 2, we’re giving you the tips you need to get growing– with your own herb garden.
Herbs are an easy (and might we add super tasty) way to get started with gardening. Since they don’t require a lot of space, you can create an herb garden just about anywhere: a patio, porch, balcony, even an empty wall or windowsill. All you need is some sunlight, soil and a few planters, and you’ll be enjoying fresh herbs all summer long.
Keep scrolling to see our tips to get your garden growing (and the products you need to do it). And be sure to check back tomorrow for a roundup of the best patio furniture.
Selecting Your HERBS
When it comes to picking the herbs you want to grow, it’s all about choosing varieties that you’ll want to actually eat (and will work with your sun exposure). There is a definite variety in flavors and uses for herbs, but you really can’t go wrong with most choices. Here are the most popular herb varieties (grouped by growing conditions) and what you can use them for:
HERBS THAT NEED FULL SUN
- Basil – Peppery with a mild anise flavor. Used on pizza, pasta and sauces
- Dill – Earthy and grassy flavor. Used with fish and sauces.
- Oregano – Sweet and spicy flavor. Used as seasoning
- Rosemary – Strong pine-like fragrance. Used on potatoes, meat or in shortbread.
- Sage – Mild to slightly peppery flavor, with some touches of mint. Used for rich foods like pasta and sausage.
HERBS THAT TOLERATE PARTIAL SHADE
- Mint -Spearmint is lighter and sweeter, Peppermint strong and cool. Used in tea, sauces and cocktails.
- Chives – Light, oniony flavor. Used in dips and as a garnish.
- Cilantro – Bright and citrusy flavor (or soapy to some). Used in salsa and pho.
- Parsley – Peppery flavor. Used as a garnish.
- Thyme – Earthy and a little bit sweet flavor. Used for meat, poultry and flatbreads.
Need some ideas for how to cook with herbs? Click here for 50 fresh herb recipes.
When the summer is over, you can always transfer your potted herbs to the indoors to freshen up your meals year-round. Just make sure they still get sun!
When potting your herbs, there are a few things to keep on mind. Shallow planters will work best, as herbs don’t have large root systems, and you’ll also want to to make sure the pot or container has adequate drainage. For the easiest option, start with herbs that are already grown (but if you prefer to grow your herbs from seed, click here for a full how-to). You can use one large elevated planter box for multiple varieties, or go with individual pots. And if you’re short on space, try a hanging option or a planter that leans against the wall.
Want to get. your kids involved? Have them help label your herbs for easy picking (and to add a cute design moment).
Maintaining (And Using) YOUR GARDEN
To keep your herbs happy and healthy (and know how to use them) follow these simple tips.
- To determine when to water, stick your finger an inch or two into the dirt near the herb base. If it’s dry, it’s time to water. (Drooping leaves are also a tell tale sign.)
- Avoid using fertilizer on your herbs, as it can affect the growth and flavor of the herbs. Regualr potting soil will work just fine.
- Snip your herbs regularly to encourage new growth. When harvesting, generally cut no more than 1/3 of the stem’s length.
- To ready herbs for cooking, strip the leaves off the stems by sliding your thumb and forefinger from top to bottom.
- If you want to dry herbs, gather a bunch of 10 to 15 stems and tie with string or rubber band. Hang them upside down in a warm place for up to 3 weeks, and then store in an airtight container.
Click here for even more tips on keeping your garden growing.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for even more of Outdoor Week! And let us know how you’re creating an herb garden at home in the comments below.
This is so topical and timely, now more than ever I think people are looking for ways to reconnect with nature and grow their own food. Love it!