But, another thing a garden can do is provide a pastime, and a real sense of accomplishment. This is especially true of a herb garden, literally adding flavor to your life at home.
Returning writer Alyssa Davis expands on the wondrous bounty that is the residential herb garden …
If you’re looking for a home improvement project that will add beauty, relaxation and delicious fresh herbs to your life all at the same time, adding an herb garden to your home or yard can be the perfect choice. I love cooking with fresh herbs, but find that buying them at the grocery store can be quite expensive. Fortunately, most herb plants are actually quite easy to grow at home.
For the price of a few packs of seeds or a few nursery plants, you can enjoy a steady supply of fresh and delicious herbs all summer long. In fact, I find that many herbs can also be grown inside the house, as long as you provide them with an adequate light supply. If you’d like to try your hand at growing your own herbs, here are a few ideas you can use as inspiration.
Choosing your herbs
Before you plant an herb garden, you should first decide on the herb varieties you would like to grow. Since I like to use a lot of fresh herbs when I cook, I chose to grow the herbs that I use most frequently. Once you’ve created your herb “wish list,” take the time to research each of the varieties. Depending on where you live, you might find that some herb varieties may not grow properly in your area.
You might also find that the growing requirements of some of the varieties may not be a good match for your garden location. For example, if you plan to create your garden in a partially shaded area, herbs that require full sun might not be the best choice.
Choosing your herb garden location
Since most herbs love the sun, a sunny spot is often the best herb garden location. Choose an area that drains well after rainfall, in order to keep your herbs from becoming waterlogged. Although most herbs are not too picky in regards to soil requirements, I find that working in a bit of all-purpose plant fertilizer can be helpful if the soil is especially poor.
Creating the perfect herb garden
Once you’ve chosen your garden location and have your herbs ready to go, you are ready to start the planting process. If you want to keep things simple, you can simply dig up a small area of the yard in order to plant your herbs. If you have some woodworking skills, creating a raised bed garden can help provide your herbs with better drainage. Raised beds also tend to warm up more quickly in the spring, which means you’ll be able to plant your herbs earlier.
I sometimes like to create a very artistic and decorative garden, using the various herbs to create patterns and designs. Decorative rocks, small garden statues and even small water features such as a fountain or a birdbath can all work well as part of a decorative herb garden.
Extend the life of your herbs
If you live in an area of the country where the winters are cold, you’ll have to decide what to do with your herbs when summer ends. Some herbs such as oregano are perennials, which means they will keep growing back year after year. Other herbs such as basil are much more sensitive to the cold, wilting and dying at the first sign of frost.
If you’d like to extend the harvest of your fresh herbs, consider digging some of them up at the end of the season. Simply replant them in small pots and display on a sunny windowsill or under a few fluorescent light fixtures, and enjoy fresh herbs year-round.