Herb Gardening – Tips & Tricks

Assortment of fresh herbs Planting and maintaining a herb garden in your yard is a fun and rewarding hobby. With a little planning and thought put into the where and how you will start your garden, you can have access to cheap and readily available herbs nearly all year long! Whether you are in Sydney or Tasmania, with a little thought and research a successful herb garden is within everyone’s reach. Read on below for some helpful tips and tricks to get you on your way:

Purchase New Herbs As Seedlings

It is recommended for beginner herb gardeners that they purchase their herbs as seedlings instead of attempting to sow them themselves. With space in a herb garden usually limited and the growing season potentially quite short depending on your location, it is more time efficient to have someone who knows what they are doing start the seedlings for you so that you can get right into planting. Doing this ensures that you can start harvesting edible herbs much sooner and with less risk of them dying out early.

Start Your Herbs Indoors

If you do decide that you prefer to start your herbs from seed it is best to start indoors first. Sow the seeds in small pots, making sure there is good water drainage. Germination will happen much faster and it is much easier to control their environment. Once the herb has established itself and the weather is nice enough outside, you can start gradually putting them outside. Doing so allows the herb to better acclimatise itself to the change in temperature.

Combine Herbs With Similar Needs

Take note of what type of soil, water frequency, and light requirements that different herbs have and try to plant those with similar needs together to make herb garden maintenance easier. Some herbs require more frequent watering than others and it is easier to stay on top of the watering schedule if the herbs with similar requirements are together. Herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary, or sage prefer full sun and little water and go well together. Parsley, basil, and chives prefer to be watered more frequently so they’d do better together, but separate from those with drier preferences.

Plant or Sow Your Herbs In Rows

When it’s time to plant your herbs outside, it is recommended that you give some thought to the landscaping of your garden and to plant the herbs directly in the soil in rows. Planting in rows makes it much easier to weed your herb garden as the weeds will be easier to spot. It also makes navigating your herb garden much easier by having an open pathway between different sections of plants and allows adding an irrigation system much easier later on if you want one.

Figure Out How Much Light Your Yard or Window Gets

When deciding on which herbs to grow, it’s important to have an idea of what kind of light the area of the garden you have in mind gets. Some herbs require full sun in order to flourish, while others can get by in a shady corner of your garden or yard just fine. Try to keep track of how many hours of sunlight each different area of your yard gets and design your garden accordingly. Full sun means six or more hours, so make sure your yard gets this for herbs that require this much light. If you find that your yard doesn’t get much sun, consider some low-light tolerant herbs such as mind, parsley or thyme.

Give Your Herbs Space to Flourish

When you go to plant your herbs in their designated areas of your garden, make sure to consider their individual space requirements. From above, your herbs may look like they have enough space, but if you have crowded them too close together their roots may start competing with each other. Crowded roots yield less than stellar harvests so save yourself the time and trouble and space your herbs far enough apart.

Be Mindful of How Much Water Your Herbs Get

Read up on how often to water your herbs. Some herbs require little water and prefer to stay relatively dry, where others like to be watered often. Hopefully, you’ll have herbs with similar water requirements grouped together to make things easier. If you’ve planted your herbs outside in the soil it is likely you may not have to worry about watering too often. If you have planted your herbs in pots though, keep track of how dry the soil is and try to water often enough to keep it damp.

Make Sure Your Herbs Have Adequate Drainage

If you did decide to plant your herbs in pots or planters, make sure that there is enough drainage provided. If a herb is planted in a pot or planter that doesn’t have adequate water drainage, it causes water to pool at the bottom and create a swamp-like environment. In turn, this can encourage root rot. Try to purchase planters with multiple drainage holes at the bottom and use a good quality potting soil containing perlite or similar mineral to discourage water from hanging around.

Use Fresh Potting Soil

Not all soil is created equally. It’s a good idea to start your new herbs in fresh potting soil. If you do decide to reuse old soil, it is good practice to remove any dead roots and supplement it with some fertiliser or compost. This is important because as you water your herbs throughout the year, some of the nutrients in the soil are flushed out. Eventually, the nutrient density in your soil becomes sub-optimal and your herbs may cease to flourish.

Isolate Invasive Herbs

Keep in mind that some herbs can become invasive. Herbs such as mint, lemon balm and horseradish have a habit of taking over whole gardens and crowding out your other plants. Most invasive herbs spread by way of underground runners so in order to curtail this behaviour, it is best to plant common offenders in a pot buried in the soil to limit their root growth to only their designated area. Try to keep these tips in mind when making the decision on which herbs you want to plant and how you want to plant them. A well thought-out herb garden will provide you with a bounty of fresh herbs at a fraction of the cost of buying them from the market!  

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