i have been growing herbs for a few years now, and though i am no expert, i find these tips to be helpful. living in southern california, i could grow herbs year round and it was luxurious! here in colorado, i have been growing them inside for a few months, but have had a few mishaps with bugs, or simply leaving them by a very cold window for too long. i recently bought a new batch and am back in business with the little gems. they are currently sitting in the front window and so far so good! when i first moved here, i cringed at buying a $4 box of herbs when it is so easy to grow them yourself. there really is no excuse not too!
there are many books or even tutorials online about your herbs. these are just a few simple helpful hints for flavorful herbs.
1. learn where your species are from in order to mimic their preferred environment. lavender, rosemary, thyme, savory, and sage are Mediterranean herbs and like lots of sun, sandy soil that drains well, keeping fertilizers to the minimum. all this will help keep the flavor in the leaves. herbs like basil, mint, lemon verbena prefer lots of water and rich soil, maybe some compost. an easy way to distinguish is by the leaves. the softer the leaf, the more water it will want! perhaps, you plant your mediterranean herbs together and your more delicate herbs together so your watering doesn’t get mixed up!
2. harvesting: new leaves tend to have the most flavor vs. the leaves at the bottom. some say harvesting in the morning is also the best time! when herbs like basil and dill have flowered, that means they have matured…no more leaves. for basil, cut down just above the last branch and new leaves should begin to sprout again!
rosemary: year round if you live in a frost free area. dry soil, full sun. companions: beans, broccoli, carrots, hot peppers. keep dry.
sage: grows in brisk dry summer, dry soil, full sun. companions: cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, rosemary, broccoli, don’t over water-likes it dry!
cilantro: grows in spring/summer.cool nights, sunny days.rich soil. companions: anise. adequate water.
chive: spring summer. well drained average soil, 4-6 hours of sun. companions: parsley, broccoli, eggplant, mustard, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes. water: once a week. these babies will keep coming back!
thyme: brisk days of summer. well drained, sunny airy spot. companions: everybody! keep fairly dry, don’t overwater.
dill: grow in summer. plant early spring. average light. companions: cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, onions, beets. lots of water.
basil: grow in summer. plant when soil is warm. full sun. companions: tomatoes and asparagus. adequate moisture.
mint: grow mostly in summer. plant anytime. open airy spot with room to grow. companions: cabbage, tomato, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli. needs lots of moisture.
tarragon: winter in some zones. well drained soil and sun in the mornings. if too hot, place in shade in afternoon. companions: anything. pests don’t like tarragon. keep well watered.
oregano: spring/summer. full sun and well drained soil. companions: cabbage, cucumbers, grapes. moderate watering, but more while young.
now, these tips are simple and again, i am not an expert. i just thought this would be fun post to do to inspire those who may be timid to start a garden. there are so many different great websites out there for growing herbs. not only are they great for cooking, but have been used for centuries in many medicinal purposes. one day, we might just discuss that! we didn’t go over a few great ones either like anise, lavender, chamomile, but you can easily find this info online. check your thrift stores too for garden books! it is one of my favorite places to look!
i can’t wait to get started on my garden outside. i was hoping to dig into it before i left for three weeks, but that might not happen. another tip, is to check about local growing. different areas will have different species of bugs, critters, or animals that will pester your herbs or garden. for example, the squirrels were a pain in the ass last spring in LA. apparently, growing tomatoes here in colorado is best done next to chervil (i believe, i gotta check that one again!) i also can’t plant any fruits or the bears will eat em up! another fun tip about tomatoes, if your leaves are turning a bit blue green, producing lots of leaves and no fruit…clip back your leaves as the plant is being too taken care of. the fruit grows in order to procreate. it is where the seeds are they will germinate the next batch. i found that to be so exciting! sometimes, you want to make the plant thrive in order to get it to produce. but more to come on the garden beds and veggies! i can’t wait!