Healthy & Beautiful Gardens – The herb garden

I thought this would be a fun garden topic for everybody, because let’s face it, don’t we all use herbs in one form or another fairly regularly? So why not grow them yourself, that way you know they’re fresh, organic, priced right and ready when you are.

There are many different ways to grow herbs in your garden. You can grow many of them in pots, such as chives, parsley, smaller rosemary varieties, basil, etc. Make sure the pot is a fairly good sized one so you do not have to water it every single day. Most herbs do fine in full sun but some like a little shade.

Mint is an herb that I definitely recommend growing in a pot – otherwise it will be all over your garden in no time. It prefers semi-shade. It’s great for making teas, and of course, mint juleps!

Chives are great in salads, baked potatoes, etc. but they too will freely seed and pop up everywhere so a pot is a good idea with them, and keep cutting the flowers heads off, that’s where your seeds are.

Basil is an herb I personally can’t live without. I grow tomatoes so basil is the perfect complement to fresh tomatoes – there are many varieties, try one of each! “Purple Ruffles” is beautiful, “Greek Columnar” has tiny leaves, great taste, does well in pots, as does “Thai” basil with beautiful purple flowers. “Genova” is a classic with large crinkled leaves and “Sweet Basil” is another favorite. Keep dead heading as the flower spikes shoot up to prolong the leaves growing.

Sage (Salvia) is a beautiful plant in the garden, drought tolerant, as well as being a useful herb. Berggarten Sage and Golden Sage are favorites of mine and you can plant them right out in the garden border or bed with other plants. It fits in perfectly. Make sure you purchase an edible sage and not an ornamental salvia.

Parsley is a “bi-ennial”, that is, it lives for two years only, first year it grows, second year it sets seed. I prefer the “flat leaf” or “Italian” variety and among all its other culinary uses, it’s great in green smoothies and very healthy for


Some other herbs that not only look and smell good but grow easily and have many uses are French tarragon (fantastic on fish!), oregano (no pizza complete with out it!), and rosemary (check the variety – some get quite large, others stay smaller, great on chicken, potatoes, just about anything, and drought tolerant as a bonus). Try “Majorca Pink” if you can find it and thyme – many varieties out there, I grow “Common Thyme” and its in full bloom right now, the bees are loving it!

Lemon balm, Chamomile, Lemon verbena, Spearmint, these are all great herbs to make tea with, hot or iced, or just great additions to your brewed black or green tea.

Cilantro is another herb that I personally like, some people tell me they definitely do not like its taste, so either you like it or you hate it. Either way, it “bolts” early, so re-plant every few weeks if you do like the taste as I do. It is great in Mexican dishes, I think it’s essential actually.

As to growing arrangements, most herbs need well draining soil if in ground. If in pots, make sure they don’t dry out. Sage and Rosemary are two herbs that are fairly drought tolerant and they both do well in the landscape. Some consider Lavender an herb, if so, it’s a gorgeous one. I don’t think I’d want to eat it though but it would look nice in the herb garden.

You can grow your herbs in their own beds, design a traditional herb garden, or grow some in pots, others dotted around in landscape, its up to you, just make sure they are watered correctly and are in good soil, not clay or sand.

Amend when planting – always! Herbs are excellent on drip emitters and that insures they are watered on a regular schedule.

Have fun in the garden and as always I am available for consultations and design work.

Linda McDonald-Cash

(951) 764-4762

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