Herbs can make a wonderful addition to your garden. Even if you only have a patio with some containers, herbs can have a place there. While some herbs are used for cooking, others have wonderful flowers and fragrance to them. Your plants can be solely for decoration if you wish, or flavor your dishes all season long. You can decide what you want your herb garden to be for. Most herbs are very easy to grow and there is a wide variety to choose from.
Basil: Basil is an annual that comes in over 40 varieties, although you will normally only see a few at your local garden center. The most popular variety is Sweet Basil. Basil has a spicy flavor with licorice undertones and a touch of pepper. Used widely in Italian cooking, it is great with any dish, either cooked or sprinkled on top as a garnish. Sweet basil grows one to two feet tall, and prefers a good fertile soil with abundant moisture and full sun. Perfect for containers or in the garden bed. Basil can be started easily from seed indoors, although it is cold sensitive, so be sure not to put it out too early. Basil also benefits from pruning, so don’t be afraid to harvest a lot of basil. The more often you harvest, the bushier your plants will become.
Parsley: Commonly seen as a garnish on restaurant dishes, parsley actually is a wonderful tasting herb. There are two types: Italian (or curly) and flat leaf. The flat leaf parsley has a bit of a stronger taste than the Italian. Parsley is an annual that will reseed itself freely, so be on the look out the following year after planting. You may never have to purchase another parsley plant again! Parsley is extremely easy to grow. Either from seed directly sown, or started indoors. Ordinary soil suits the parsley plant just fine. Some shade is good, so plant in a mostly sunny location, rather than direct sun all day.
Garlic; Surprised to think you can grow garlic at home? It’s quite easy, and you can do it with a bulb you purchase at the grocery store. You simply need to plant one clove from the head of the garlic. You want to plant this directly into the area you want to plant to grow, and plant the clove 3 inches into the soil. Normally you will want to plant the garlic in the fall so that you can harvest the following year. Garlic likes good fertile soil as well. When the leaves of the garlic plant turn brown, this is the time to dig up the newly formed garlic bulb. You can pull a clove off of this new bulb and restart the process for next year.
Mint: Mint plants are perennials. Mint can be used in sweet or savory dishes, or as garnish. Mint is not particular about the soil it is planted in, and is a low growing perennial. However, mint spreads like wildfire, so either only plant it in patio containers or sink the entire contained plant into the ground. Once it escapes the container, it will be difficult to control. Mint can grow in partial shade to full sun. Keep your plants well watered and do not let them dry out.
Thyme: Thyme is also extremely easy to grow. There are dozens of varieties of thyme, and you will find a good selection at any nursery. Thyme will grow to a maximum of twelve inches, depending on the variety, but most are of a creeping variety. Thyme works well in rock gardens, or in containers. Some people have actually replaced their lawns with creeping thyme, as you only have to mow it several times over the course of the summer! Thyme is best started by either cuttings or purchasing a potted plant at the nursery. Starting thyme from seed is time consuming. Thyme also does not care much about the soil type you plant it in, but does prefer full sun.
Try an addition of any of these herbs to your garden. They are easy to grow, and easy to find at your local nursery. So add a few basil plants to a container, or edge your garden beds with thyme. The possibilities are endless.