DIY Garden

Setting Up a Herb Garden

Having fresh culinary herbs ready to pick is one of the delightful aspects of a herb garden. But a herb garden can also be a visual treat, such as a beautifully classic design divided into sections by boxwood hedges. Moreover, herbs deter harmful insects and promote the growth of other plants. The best part — most herbs also have minimal soil and care requirements.

The Best Spot for a Herb Garden

A spot near the kitchen is naturally convenient if you want to quickly grab some fresh chives or basil while cooking. But the most important factor is a sunny location. Many herbs originate from the Mediterranean region and thrive in full sun. Herbs that require a lot of sun include basil, rosemary, sage, lavender, savory, and thyme. Herbs that need more shade include chives, borage, lemon balm, chamomile, chervil, lovage, mint, and parsley.

The best soil for your herb garden is permeable and airy. Many herbs also prefer somewhat nutrient-poor soils. Sandy soil drains well and warms up quickly, making it ideal for Mediterranean herbs like tarragon, chamomile, lavender, marjoram, and thyme.

Classic Herb Garden

Classic herb garden with boxwood hedges

A classic herb garden, divided into sections separated by boxwood hedges, is not only beautiful but practical. It’s useful to group plants into sections that have similar care requirements. Annual herbs like anise, chervil, and borage can be considered a group since you need to sow them anew each year. Some evergreen herbs like rosemary and sage need protection during harsh frosts, so it’s practical to place these together as well.

Herbs Scattered Throughout the Garden

Distributing herbs throughout the garden also has its advantages. Some herbs are beneficial to other plants. For instance, basil helps deter flying insects and mildew and is a good companion for tomato plants. Southernwood keeps cabbage whites away from cabbage; dill helps carrot, beetroot, and cabbage germination while keeping harmful insects at bay. Garlic keeps roses healthier, and lavender deters flies.

Other Ideas

Herbs in pots

There are also other types of herb gardens you can set up, for example, herbs in pots on the patio or in small pots on the kitchen windowsill. On the balcony, a vertical herb garden on the wall, or a standing pallet is a beautiful and space-saving idea. Choose potted herb plants that are grown for open ground. Herbs in pots from the supermarket are often so densely grown that they quickly develop mold and begin to wilt.

Don’t Forget the Tea Herbs

Mint tea

Your herb garden should also include plants for making delicious teas, such as mint, lemon verbena, chamomile, lavender, and sage. Even the disliked nettle makes for a tasty cup of tea. Mint grows very easily but can be invasive. To prevent this, plant mint in a confined bed or a pot. Lemon balm grows best in partial shade. To keep getting young and tender shoots, you can regularly cut lemon balm down to the ground. Sage is a Mediterranean plant that loves a sunny spot and fairly dry, nutrient-poor soil. Besides being great for tea, it’s also a flavor enhancer in pasta and meat dishes.

Caring for and Harvesting Herbs

Woman pruning rosemary

A herb garden requires little maintenance. Apart from weeding, regularly prune the plants to encourage the growth of fresh young leaves and branches. And after harvesting, you can dry or freeze herbs to use them all year round. Harvesting your herbs at the right time is crucial because it affects the taste and quality. Generally, it’s best to harvest herbs before they bloom, as the flavor is most intense then. Regular harvesting encourages the stems and leaves of the plant to grow and branch out. This can make the plant fuller and stronger and also prevent plants from becoming too large and exhausting themselves. Woody herbs like rosemary, lavender, and sage can be pruned from the end of March/beginning of April down to the green parts of the plant. Use a sharp and clean pruning shear to avoid damaging the plant.

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