Using fresh herbs is one of the best ways to season your food, especially when you want to reduce sodium from salt, but attaining the herbs is something else entirely. Many times, when you buy them from the store, they don’t get used fast enough, or become expensive.
But what if you could bypass buying them, have them available to you at home, and even grow them organically? That is what this report is going to teach you how to do.
Keep in mind these are just the basics of what it means to have an organic herb garden, and some general tips for getting started. It is not an in-depth overview of the topic. But this provides a great start to organic herb gardening!
What Makes it an Organic Garden
One of the most common questions asked is what makes an herb organic. Just like with produce, it mostly comes down to the type of chemicals (or lack of) that are used when growing the herbs.
Many people and companies want those lush herb plants, so they will use fertilizer to help them grow faster and much bigger than if you didn’t use it. The problem is that they won’t be nearly as fragrant and might even have less flavor, thanks to the various chemicals contained in the fertilizer.
By choosing a more organic method, what you add to your herbs and plants is going to be all-natural, therefore reducing this issue with your fresh herbs.
Basics of Starting an Herb Garden
To start with, let’s go over some of the basics of planting your first herb garden. These tips pertain to any type of herb gardening, organic or not, so they are versatile and will help out just about any beginning gardener.
Here are some of the basics of what you will do when planting your first herb garden:
Choosing the Plot
Depending on where you live, you may or may not have a lot of options available to you. A person with a large yard is going to have a few more options than someone who lives in an apartment building, but there are ways to do just about anything these days.
If you live in an apartment, you can choose to place your herbs in a window box by the window. If you have a large yard, then the soil is probably plentiful, but bad soil won’t yield much so you might still want to elect to find a confined box where you can grow your herbs inside.
This can also be the case if there are a number of pests that can get to your young herbs before they have a chance to mature.
The good news is that herbs are relatively easy to grow in many different areas, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble deciding on a good location.
Look for Adequate Sunlight
For herbs, you want them to have at least 4-6 hours of sunlight a day. While they don’t need to be outside in a garden plot (though that is a great option), you should at least look into a patio or indoor space with this much sunlight.
This also depends on the type of herbs you plan to grow. For example, oregano and lavender typically want the most amount of sunlight, and actually do best in these conditions. While basil, dill, and mint can go with a little less sunlight.
Do some research into each individual herb you intend on growing, as this gives you the most accurate information.
Consider the Soil
This is also important when deciding on where and how to plant your herbs. In general, herbs don’t like extremely rich soil, and instead should be lean soil. This will give you the best quality herbs with the most aroma and flavor, not overpowered by rich soil with a lot of fertilizer.
Choosing What to Plant
When it comes to which herbs you want to plant, there are many things to think about. From where you can plant them (indoors or outdoors), to how much work is involved, you don’t want to rush into this decision.
Easy Herbs for Beginners
If you are brand new not just to herbs, but planting in general, these are good herbs to start with:
These are all easy to grow in many planting and soil conditions and don’t require too much maintenance on your part.
Growing Herbs Indoors
If you are planting the herbs indoors, here are some best for that:
What Will They Be Used for?
Lastly, think about why you want to grow organic herbs. There are many reasons to grow your own herbs, from using them in cooking to wanting to cultivate holistic healing medicines. For example, if you are using them for healing, aloe and lavender are amazing options. For cooking, think about rosemary, basil, oregano, and mint.
Organic Herb Garden Planting and Caring
Once you have decided on the plots or indoor growing method for your herbs and chosen your herbs, it is time to do the planting and caring for your herbs. Here are some tips for this phase of the process:
When you are planting your herbs, as mentioned, you want to go with light, lean soil. This means it isn’t too rich, and instead of fertilizer, you will use something organic, like compost.
You can use whether you will buy the herbs in pots at your nearby garden center that are ready to transfer to the soil in your garden or start them by seed. Some herbs can also be started from cuttings, like sage or rosemary.
Just like with any plant you buy at a garden center, there will be specific instructions for how to plant each one on the pot or seed packet.
Most herbs need to be watered regularly, but not drowned. You don’t want them to get too dry, so it is a good idea to check on them daily or at least on a regular basis. You also want good drainage, whether you have indoor pots or a garden in your background.
Some herbs are more drought tolerant, meaning they can survive with less water, such as lavender and oregano. However, they still need to be watered.
A good rule of thumb for watering: They need a drink when the soil feels dry to the touch.
Since we are talking about organic herb gardening, you want to be careful about pest control. The non-organic method is to use chemicals, but since that isn’t an option here, you will need to look for more natural options. Don’t underestimate the damage pests can do to your plants – your herbs can be destroyed by the little pesky insects.
Here are some natural and organic options:
Use Diatomaceous Earth – This is probably the most popular chemical-free option for controlling pests in your garden. It not only works great for an herb garden, but for plants, flowers, and vegetables as well. Make sure you read the label because the food-grade version of DE is chemical-free, but other versions might have some insecticides in them.
Try Growing Catnip – There are certain things you can grow in your garden that will deter certain types of insects. Believe it or not, catnip is a great option. This can help deter many pests, including spiders and aphids. Another option is to plant onions, as their odor of them can deter certain insects.
Plant the Right Herbs – The types of herbs you decide to grow might also make a difference in how many pests you have issues with. For problems with flies, basil is a good option. If you want to keep ants out, plant tansies in your garden.
Pruning and Harvesting
The last thing you will do is learn how to prune and harvest your herbs, as this is how you will get your fresh herbs into your kitchen for cooking or using for natural remedies.
Pruning is the process of snipping certain parts of the plant or herb that are dying or overgrown, in order to make room for healthy growth of the herbs. This is necessary for most herbs, whether they are being grown indoors or outdoors.
For herbs, you typically prune by cutting the tips of the leaves, as well as removing leaves or growth that are dying and affecting the healthy growth of the plant.
To harvest your herbs, you simply are removing the flowering herbs when you want to use them. You can either use them that same day when you are cooking, or dry them to store for later. Wait until they are fully developed for the best results.
Last Tips for Your Organic Herb Garden
Now you can go and enjoy your fresh herbs! There’s nothing like getting to eat food that you’ve grown with your own hands and efforts. As an added bonus, here are a few additional tips and facts that might interest you:
- Fresh herbs taste better than dried herbs you buy. The flavor and aroma are strongest when you first harvest them.
- In most cases, herbs naturally get rid of pests.
- Don’t let your pets play or hang out in your herb garden so they can be free of contamination.
- Herbs in the mint family need more water.
- Seeds usually take a longer time to dry, sometimes as long as 2 weeks.