Like any garden plant, herbs have certain personalities and needs to attend to for maximum success. While some shy and ‘bolt’ at any real heat, others thrive in those same hot rays. Come along with me as I share some tips for growing some the easiest and most versatile culinary herbs!
For you rookies out there:
“Perennial” mean a plant will come back year after year unless you manage to kill it!”
“Annual” means it it produces and then dies, not to come again
“Self-Seeding Annual” means the plant will grow, die, but will leave plenty of seeds behind to grow new plants.
“Evergreen” mean it keeps it’s foliage through the winter
My top two tips for any new gardener pertaining to ANY plant you plan to grow:
- Right plant, right place. Seems so simple, but so many rookie gardeners put plants in locations where they will get too big, or not enough light, or enough water, or too much water, or too much light…..you get the drift! Easiest way avoid this pitfall is read the label!! It it likes shade, give the plant shade! Your plant will grow better and be less maintenance if it is in the RIGHT spot.
- Happy soil = happy plant. Kind of like the food we put into our bodies nourishes US, plants need nutritious goodies too! Organic compost is one of the simplest ways to improve your soil with organic matter. After that, think organic fertilizers…especially for plants that you want to eat from.
- Parsley (perennial, tender evergreen). Prefers rich, moist soil and full sun. If growing, it can be harvested continually, pinch off flowers to encourage more growth! Although it doesn’t grow vigorously, I can even harvest tidbits through the mild winters here in the NW.
- Sage (perennial, evergreen). A hardy plant that stays green all winter, adds a lovely flavor to winter dishes, but looks beautiful all year round! Purple flowers in Spring/Summer.
- Oregano (perennial, tender evergreen): Full sun, sprawling ground cover that is about a foot tall. Pretty pink flowers in the summer.
- Thyme(perennial): a great Italian herb that prefers hot conditions and dry soil. A beautiful sprawling ground cover with tiny pink/purple flowers.
- Cilantro (annual, sometimes self-seeding) A cool weather annual. The trickiest of the bunch to grow as it it has a tendency to ‘bolt,’ or go to seed in temperatures much above 72. It is easy to grow from seed, but plant it an area where it will be protected from extremely hot sun. Planting in weekly successions is a good idea, as once you harvest, the plant is done.
- Basil (annual): a favorite! This plant likes rich, evenly moist soil and lots of sun. Don’t even think about planting it outside until temperatures are consistently in the 70’s and up. This is always the very first plant to succumb to frost in my garden. As it grows, pinch back flowers to encourage bushy growth!
- Chives (perennial, self-seeding): Full sun and well-drained soil. Cut back to about 2 inches when you harvest pieces. If allowed to flower, will self-seed readily. I harvest from mine all winter in the mild NW winters here. It won’t grow until Spring, but it lives!
- Mint (perennial, evergreen); Whatever you do, do not plant this by itself in the ground, it will take over any garden bed! It is best grown withina pot to contain the sprawling feeders. Prefers damp, cool spots but will tolerate full sun if it is all you have. Snip leaves as needed.
- Rosemary (perennial, evergreen): Full sun, well drained soil. I often add sand or gravel to the planting hole to cater to this. It has beautiful purple flowers in the Spring, and can be continuously harvested, Snip a piece, and strip the needles for use in your dishes. This also makes an attractive evergreen shrub for your garden, and grows quite large!!