How to Plant your own Herb Garden
I love to cook with fresh herbs, but they are way to expensive to buy at the store every time you want to use them in a dish. In this shrinking economy more and more people are trying to plant their own food for the first time, which gets me excited. You can use these tips to plant JUST ABOUT ANYTHING in pots! The only thing to watch out for is that some plants need more nutrients than others, but you can use compost for that. If you don't make your own, you can use cow manure from any hardware store.
If you live in Florida the best way to grow your own herbs is in pots. If you live where the ground is not sandy you can plant them in the ground, but I still prefer pots wherever you live because they are easier to manage.
If the herbs start getting old and not very green just pull out the plant and buy a new one. One plant usually lasts at least a year for me. The best way to make them grow, and get nice and bushy, is to use them all the time. Just pull off the leaves as needed. For basil when you see the little flower buds pluck them off and your plant will grow more. The more you use any herb the more it will grow.
You can have one plant or many plants. I always have basil and oregano because I use them almost everyday. I also like to have, for occasional use, rosemary and mint. I also have a red pepper plant that I have planted in a pot the same exact way. When it gets old and tall I just cut it and it keeps coming back.
When you have a lot of herbs and they start getting big you can cut them back. Put them in large freezer bags and put them right in the freezer, but do not rinse them off (this is very important). When you need them just pull some out of freezer, rinse, and chop. They stay fresh. You can also share with your friends.
How to Buy them:
- I get my herbs at the Farmers Market (you can search for a local market using the Local Harvest site, although our Winter Garden market isn't listed so you'll have to check your local paper as well). There is usually someone selling them without pesticides. They don't have to be large, just healthy. They usually cost about $2.00 per plant or 3 for $5.00.
- If you don't have time to go to the Farmers Market you can usually get a REAL plant in the produce section of the grocery store for about the same price. Just wash the plant really good before you plant it due to the pesticides.
- You can also get them at any outdoor garden department at your local Home Depot, Walmart, or Target.
- Pick an area in the yard that either gets water everyday from a sprinkler system or that is easy for you to water everyday yourself. They need water daily.
- The spot must also gets full sun for part of the day. For my herbs, I put them on the side of the house that the sun comes up on, then when it goes to the other side of the house they are not getting scorched all day in the summer.
- For my herbs I have to plant them away from the squirrels! Beware they will tear them up!
- Get flower pots that are at least one gallon. If you don't want to buy a pot you can recycle old plastic milk cartons or any container like that. Just cut off the top and poke holes in the bottom to let the water drain.
- Fill up container 1/4 way with any kind of rocks for drainage. Then fill the other 1/2 with dirt. Not all the way to the top. This can't be dirt from the ground. It needs to be any kind of potting soil. You can usually even get a bag from the grocery store. It does NOT have to be the most expensive kind. Your herbs will grow if they have soil, light, and water.
- Put a hole in center of the dirt, pull out your plant, break up the dirt around its base, and place the plant down in the hole. Make sure the plant is almost 1/2 way up the stem down in the dirt (about 1 inch over the base of it).
- Water it when you plant it. It helps it to settle.
I hope everyone gives this a shot; using fresh herbs in your dishes really will make the flavors jump.
Let me know how this works out in the comments. Also let my readers and I know if you have any gardening tips to share by leaving a comment. Enjoy!