Herb GardenGrowing Herb Gardens Can Be Easy and Fun.  Really!

As you are learning the art of herb gardening, you may encounter some 'fun' challenges.  Don't let them deter you, as they are usually very minor.

You will need to learn how to prepare your soil and decide which of the many wonderful herbs you want to grow. Selecting the herbs that you want in your garden is the 'fun' challenge that I mentioned earlier.

Some of the herbs recommended for beginners are chives, parsley, summer savory, dill, sweet basil, tarragon, thyme, sweet marjoram, rosemary and sage.  If you are having a difficult time narrowing the field and making your selections, you can look at your cookbooks for favorite recipes and use this as a reminder of what you use most often in your cooking.  Or, stroll the produce aisle at your favorite market to take a refresher course on the many varieties available.

As you become successful at growing garden herbs, you can add to your collection by planting additional herbs.  When selecting herbs to grow, be sure to keep in mind that some are annuals, while others are biennials or perennials.

The majority of herbs will appreciate 4 - 6 hours of sunlight per day.  So, be sure to keep this in mind as you plant.  Sunlight and good drainage are best friends to most herbs.

Once you have selected which herbs to grow, you will need to prepare their planting beds.  This means that you have another decision to make - determining where you will plant them.

Will they be in an outdoor garden bed, outdoors in containers or perhaps in your kitchen in the windowsill or on tiered racks?  One great advantage to growing garden herbs indoors, is that they are so handy.  As someone who loves to cook, I love gathering some of my fresh herbs that are growing in my kitchen and adding them to whatever I am whipping up for the next meal.  Then there is the advantage of having fragrant herbs in your kitchen to add their savory smells to this area of your home.

Of course, as mentioned in my last article on herb garden kits, using a kit is an excellent way to begin your herb gardening experience.  You can review that article for advice on varieties of kits available and what is likely to be contained in the kits.

O.K., let's get back to preparing the soil.  If you are not using a kit, you will need to do some prep work.  It is not required, but you may want to test your soil for fertility and texture.  Your local county Cooperative Extension office should be able to advise you on testing the soil in your area.  And remember that you can improve your soil over time.  It doesn't have to be perfect overnight.

The secret to any kind of successful gardening is rich, fertile soil. Herbs can flourish with little care if they have the proper soil and they are not overwatered.  Compost is composed of organic matter, and if you aren't already composting, it is time to start.

Good soil provides the nutrients that your herbs need to flourish.  Creating healthy, delicious herbs is dependent on their soil.  Whatever type of soil you start out with, you will usually need to increase the amount of organic matter it contains.  Organic matter is another way of saying grass clippings, fruit or vegetable peelings, manure, etc.  Plant roots need oxygen and organic matter makes your soil 'lighter' and incorporates more oxygen.  A great way to test your soil is to take up a large handful and see if it feels light and loose.  If so, you are on the right track.   Compacted or hard soil indicates that you need more organic matter.

Speaking of proper soil, another important factor is the pH level of your soil.  For healthy herbs, this should range between 6.3 and 7.1.  If your soil is too acid, you can add some lime to it.

Watch for other informative articles to follow.  Topics will include growing herbs in pots, Italian herb gardens and much more.


Lanny Danenberg is a San Francisco area resident and cooking and herb enthusiast.  She is author of the 'How-To' book series and was motivated to write her new book, The Complete Herb Garden How-To Guide, by her love of food and fascination with herbs.

To learn more about this valuable resource, visit http://www.HerbGardenHowToGuide.com .

Find out why there's nothing like FRESH herbs plucked from the garden and added to healthy meals and drinks.