Spring is back, which means it’s time to start an herb garden that will allow you to enjoy the fruits of your labor all summer and into the fall.
While people can make growing their own herbs seem like it requires superior plant knowledge and gardening acumen, the truth is that this mystique is without merit. Here is some practical advice to achieve amazing results:
PLANT SEEDLINGS, NOT SEEDS
The herbs that are worth trying are basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, cilantro and lavender.
Basil: This might be the easiest one to grow and has the broadest appeal. Since it’s fast growing, we get to see the result quickly. It’s a pick-as-you-go kind of herb, which means you can clip the fresh leaves from your plant, to enjoy with your salad or pizza.
Oregano: Its pungent, spicy, slightly bitter flavor pairs well with almost any dish and oregano is so easy to grow. Once the stems are 4 inches tall, you can start harvesting.
Parsley: Aside from its deliciousness, parsley is a powerhouse of nutrients. Both curly- and flat-leaf parsley have more vitamin C than an orange per weight.
Thyme: This herb is what summer smells like, to me. It does best in full sun. For the best and most potent flavor, harvest thyme just before the plant flowers.
Cilantro: Cilantro was one of the earliest herbs ever cultivated for culinary use. Start harvesting early in order to encourage further growth. And, of course, pinch the flowers off the plants to preserve the flavor.
Lavender: Full sun is the best. The flower spikes have the most potent scent just as the pretty little flowers begin to open.
There are many varieties of common-sounding herbs, so read the labels carefully to make sure that you are planting what you really want to grow. For example, the number of varieties of mint is almost startling!
Speaking of mint, that herb can be invasive and take over your whole garden, so it’s best to keep in a separate container. And if you are planting your herbs in containers, make sure to use a good container mix that contains fertilizer that will feed your plants for up to three months. Other special amendments are available with a moisture control
agent that helps to retain moisture and reduce watering needs.
MIND THE SUN
Herbs for planting in full sun: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, lavender, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and sage.
Herbs for planting in partial sun: catnip, lemon balm, sweet woodruff, mint, bee balm, and lovage.
Wendy Dubner Master is the owner of Heritage Farm & Garden in Muttontown.