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Herb Growing for Beginners

Herb gardening is certainly one of the most rewarding types of gardening you can participate in, since you get to reap the benefits of your efforts by cooking nutritious meals with your own flavoursome, home-grown herbs. It also requires much less work than growing other types of plant, such as exotic flowers, which may indeed look pretty, but you can’t really consume them.

Our friends at Chesney’s are here to guide you on how to grow your perfect first herb garden so that you can start experimenting with their many uses right away.

Individual pots

Unless you are a seasoned pro, it’s wise to begin small when growing your first set of herbs. Small individual herb pots which fit one plant each are a good starting point, as all they require is nutritious soil, sunlight and a little bit of water in order to nurture.

Once you’ve been growing your herbs for a while, however, many of these plants will become too large for their starter pots and you’ll have to move them into a bigger space so that the roots can fully expand without tangling and affecting the plant’s ability to obtain nutrients.

Colworth Herb Box - Spruce >

Moving to a herb garden

Transferring your plants to bigger pots or a herb box is a pretty easy process with minimal growth disruption, but for the truly dedicated herb cultivators amongst us, creating a proper herb garden is the favoured option. This does, however, require more effort, but if you’ve got the space and time to care for your herbs, it will quickly become your favourite pastime!

With herb gardens, location is the key to your success, so be sure to choose a place in your garden which receives a good amount of sunlight (ideally at least 4-5 hours per day). You should also ensure the area has enough space to fit each plant with some distance between them so that their roots have the opportunity to fully spread out.

A handy guideline on how much space is needed for the different types of common herb is as follows:

  • Three to four feet – Sage, Rosemary, Oregano
  • Two feet – Tarragon, Basil, Thyme, Mint
  • One foot – Parsley, Dill, Chives, Cilantro, Chervil

Your soil

First of all, don’t be too disheartened if you initially find that your soil does not look as rich as you would have pictured. It’s important to note that herbs are relatively easy to grow in most soil types, though some prep work is still necessary to ensure it is full of nutrients.

To prepare your soil for planting, dig it with a large garden fork to loosen and allow for good water drainage, while creating a sufficient amount of space for the roots to expand below. If the soil can’t drain properly, the herbs simply won’t grow well, so one great tip is to add a little compost to the top to prevent drainage issues. After this, add a small amount fertiliser too which provides your plants with the nutrients they need to grow into healthy, edible herbs.

Plant and grow

Now that you’ve prepared your soil, the next step is to plant your plants and watch them grow! You should carefully nurture them by watering them on a regular basis, but not excessively. Check the soil often to determine the amount of water necessary at the time – you will usually only have to water them once a week for good growth. Over-watering your plants can produce diseases or stunt their progress.

1.9L Indoor Watering Can - Steel >

Gathering your herbs

When harvesting your plants for use in the kitchen, you should cut off around one-third of the branches, once the plant has reached a height of about six to eight inches. The trick is to cut close to the leaves’ intersection, as this allows for quick regrowth. However, some herbs, like parsley, for example, grow their leaves from the centre, which means you will have to remove old branches completely so that new ones can grow again from the middle.

These guidelines may seem a little confusing at first, but once you’ve been growing herbs for a while you’ll quickly pick up on all the little tips and tricks of the trade. Happy harvesting!