How to Grow and Enjoy Healthy Herbs

Growing a variety of herbs is a delightful way to enjoy gardening, with the added bonus of many health benefits and uses.

Herbs have been used and written about throughout history for culinary, healing, spiritual and decorative purposes.

They were originally defined as a herbaceous range of plants, meaning with soft fleshy stems and foliage, as opposed to woody plants, which have hard barked stems.

Two definitions of herbs are;

~ a flowering plant whose stem above ground does not become woody, a ‘non-woody’ plant

~ such a plant when valued for its medicinal properties, flavour, scent, or the like.

Herbs are known worldwide as being ‘useful’ plants, generally easy to grow, with many uses within each plant.

They grow well in ground and in containers, which allows gardeners of any level to enjoy the wonderful benefits of growing these plants.

Herb Gardens

Herbs suit any style of garden, from the cottage ornamental garden to a patio garden and kitchen garden.

Suitable growing spaces will vary due to land size, sunshine and soil conditions. It’s best to determine these factors before planting your herbs.

Plants can be grown among ornamental shrubs, eg Rosemary and Lavender suit an ornamental garden as well as edible garden.

Herbs are great companion plants when grown in the vegetable beds.  Companion Plants help to deter pests, attract beneficial insects, increase flavour of foods grown, provide shade or suppress weeds. They help to keep our gardens thriving!

A few good examples are growing Basil with Tomato and Broccoli with Rosemary or Sage.

Herb Spirals

Herb Spirals are a beautiful and practical way of growing a range of herbs.  These spirals are constructed of rocks, bricks, timber, or any solid material that will hold shape and form.

The base material is built around a pile of soil or compost, in a curling/winding shape, to produce something that resembles the Fibonacci pattern, which is present all through nature.

Assorted herbs are then planted around the spiral with dry climate plants at the top, Rosemary, Oregano and Thyme are perfect for this. Plants that like a balanced loam grow around the spiral, eg Parsley, Basil, Tarragon, Chives.

As the moisture works its way to the base, the plants that prefer damp soil are planted around the base, like Coriander and Mint.

Edible flowers can also grown throughout the spiral or anywhere in your garden!  Nasturtiums look lovely spilling over the edges, along with Marigold, Viola or Dianthus.

Growing Herbs in Containers

The wonderful thing with growing a variety of herbs in containers is you can place them in any location and any size space.

Move containers to gather winter sunshine, locate them in easy to pick places or place them in various locations around your home. The choices are endless!

Containers are great for people renting, or in temporary accommodation, as they can be taken with you at any time.

There are many choices for creative containers, including hanging baskets, terracotta, clay and second-hand items like bathtubs, wheelbarrows and wine barrels.

Grouping pots and containers together creates lovely visual interest in any space.

Just use your imagination when choosing containers to grow your herbs. Ensure all containers have sufficient drainage holes, and in many cases saucers are not required. If using pot saucers, drain out water daily to avoid root rot and disease.

Most herbs grow well in containers and are best grown in containers.  Mint is a good example as it can become a problem if grown in the ground. I had a container of Japanese Peppermint explode and now enjoy the fresh menthol scent when walking along the path of my kitchen garden as it’s growing everywhere…I don’t mind at all!!

Another beautiful, and very useful herb, to grow in container or in ground, is Lemon Balm. This beautiful scented, low growing plant makes a lovely, relaxing tea and also used in cooking. It’s easy to grow and enjoys similar part-shady situations, with moist soil just like Mint.

TIP – when growing in containers use premium growing mix and apply a small amount of organic slow release fertiliser for healthy, happy plants.

Growing Herbs

Herbs can be grown from seed, and seed saving is easy with most herbs!

They can also be grown by propagating. Collecting cuttings is the most common, but many varieties of herbs naturally produce ‘layered’ stems, with fibrous roots.  Remember your Spare Harvest community may have herbs to share that you can get cuttings from.

If you find stems of your plants laying on the soil, have a gentle look as you may find small roots forming on the stems. After cutting the stem with the roots, just re-plant it into another location, or place into potting mixture in a container to grow. Water and place in a part shady position until new growth appears.

If you’re growing new herbs from seed, follow my simple methods in this article.  In the article you will find an image for you to print to show you how to sow seeds.…saves having to refer back to your device with dirty hands!  Another article worth checking out is our top ten gardening tools to get the job done.

Uses for Herbs

As I’ve mentioned, most herbs have many uses which one of the fabulous things about growing them.

Not only do they look beautiful and as colour, texture and interest to any garden, they are also used in cooking, flower arranging and for medicinal uses.

Herbal Teas are popular drinks and can be enjoyed hot or cold. Many herbs are used for teas and include Lemon Balm, Mint, Lemongrass, Chamomile, Bergamot, Rose, Lavender, Lemon Myrtle…the list goes on and on!

Other uses for herbs are;

  • Poultice
  • In other applications, eg honey
  • Creams and skincare
  • In oil base
  • In baths
  • Aromatherapy

Culinary uses are vast and include adding flavour or texture to meals, as herbal oils and vinegars or to garnish a dish.

If you’re enjoying Mediterranean cuisine try Rosemary, Oregano, Marjoram, Basil or Oregano.

For Asian cuisine you’ll find Coriander, Mint (especially Vietnamese Mint), Lemon Grass, Ginger, Basil, Chives or Kaffir Lime (which is a citrus tree grown for use of leaves).

TIP – Grow the herbs you enjoy the most and cook with regularly.

Also choose herbs that suit your climate. If you’re located in a cool climate choose plants that are frost hardy and suit cooler conditions.

For warm climates, choose plants that grow in humid conditions with higher rainfall.

A wonderful way to start off growing is with Herbs, especially if you enjoy using these beautiful plants.

They are easy to grow, great for trying out as a green thumb, and produce great rewards for little effort…perfect plants!