How to grow beautiful culinary herbs

You don’t have to be a chef or have a green thumb to grow an herb garden. Culinary herbs are extremely easy to grow. Once they get going, they add fragrance, texture and color to just about any garden or space. Harvest your culinary herbs to make everything from herbal teas, vinegars and flavorful recipes.

Herbs don’t require much space to grow. You can plant them in beds in a garden or you can grow them in a small container. Combining herbs can create a beautiful effect. Your bed or container is your canvas – and what you plant there can grow into a beautiful masterpiece.

Plenty of sun
Herbs love plenty of sunlight. When choosing a location for your herbs, look for an outdoor area or window that gets 5-7 hours of direct sunlight each day.

Well-drained soil
Whether you are planting your herbs in containers or a garden, start by testing your soil for nutrients and pH. It may be necessary to adjust your soil pH to the near-neutral pH of 6-7 that herbs grow best in. You will also want to add a layer of organic compost and minerals to the soil prior to planting.

Adequate water
Herbs like well-drained soil, but well drained soil needs to be watered more frequently. Don’t just water on a whim. Stick your finger down into your soil approximately 1″ to 1-1/2″. There is no need to water unless your soil feels almost dry to the touch.

Three rules of thumb for fertilizing your herbs
Fertilizer is often referred to as “plant food.” The most important thing to remember when feeding your herbs – use products that are organic. Remember, you are going to be consuming what you grow. If you don’t want to consume chemicals, don’t use them on your herbs.

Second rule of thumb – feed your herbs a balanced diet.
Fertilizer or “plant food” provides your herbs with the major elements they need to grow and thrive – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Your plants also need minor elements called micronutrients, which contain the minor elements required by your plants to grow.

Feed your plants through their leaves (foliar feeding). Foliar feeding is 100-500% more effective than root feeding and offers quicker results. Look for organic foliar fertilizers and micronutrients. Spray all the leaves of your herbs every 1-4 weeks.

Harvesting and storage
Once your herbs are established it is important to cut them back on a regular basis. Never harvest more than 1/3 of each individual herb plant. The best time to harvest your herbs is in the morning, when the oils are still readily available in their leaves. Harvest your herbs before they flower. This will prevent them from putting forth seed and will encourage more vigorous green growth.

You can use your herbs right away, refrigerate them or put them in a plastic freezer bag and freeze them up to 6 months.

Whatever you do, enjoy growing your culinary herbs.
You will feel like a gourmet, each time you wander into your garden to clip a few herbs for your culinary productions. Even if you don’t cook much, snip a bit of fresh mint from your herb garden to transform a simple glass of ice tea into the most delectable treat. Or garnish a fruit plate, fresh vegetables and salads with your fresh herbs. Using them is as easy as growing them.