The first thing you need to decide in growing an herbal garden is location, whether or not to plant indoors or outdoors.
If you plant indoors, you need to decide from there what type of herbs and how many containers to buy. I recommend buying organic soil as this does not contain any heavy metals and will provide good nutrition for your herbs. There’s some great organic soil out there. I recommend FoxFarm Ocean Forest organic soil. You have to remember everything you take in, you also consume what that plant took in, and this soil offers great nutrients, but really any organic soil mix will do.
You will also need to determine where the plants will be located indoors as they will need 6 hours of bright sunlight a day (morning sun), which in the winter is harder to do. If this is not feasible, you may want to supplement with growing lights. How to choose a growing light will determine how big you want your indoor garden. I recommend the Roleadro Panel Grow Light Series as they offer a 12-month warranty, it is very affordable, and it has a very long life span.
If you plant outdoors, you need to determine if the soil you are planting in is adequate, meaning not sprayed on or containing high amounts of heavy metals. Even if you don’t spray your yard with pesticides, other people around you may if you live in town, and therefore the drainage or runoff from rain can make this leak into your yard. Or the person that lived in the house before you may have sprayed the yard. Regardless, heavy metals stay in the soil for some time so it’s important to check for this. I recommend the Schneider (SLGI) Toxic Metal 1 PK Test Kit as this will detect 26 different types of metal in your soil.
The main heavy metals to look out for are aluminum, arsenic, barium, and lead. These can cause major health problems. Once you’ve tested the soil and it is adequate, you need to decide what herbs to plant and how large of a garden you need. If your soil does contain high amounts of heavy metals, you may want to look into building a raised garden with organic soil to plant your herbs in. Recommended starter herbs are catnip, dill, mint, yarrow, rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, parsley, chamomile, sage, and lavender. If you plant sage – this plant spreads but smells wonderful!
- Prepare the soil for planting by loosening it up with a rake or hoe.
- Dig the holes for the herbs and plant.
- Label the herbs and surround with other flowering plants or vegetables.
- Water regularly and that’s it! You’ll be surprised to find out that a lot of herbs are actually companion plants. Companion plants are plants that work really well together to deter insects from your garden or some may attract bugs to kill other bugs that would ruin and eat your plants. Here are a few companion plants to plant with your herbs:
- Basil: Plant with tomatoes
- Dill: Plant with cabbages, but keep away from carrots
- Mint: Plant near cabbage and tomatoes
- Oregano: Plant near any vegetable as it is a good companion to all
Refer to The Farmer’s Almanac for a complete listing of companion plants.
And there you have it – you now know how to build an herbal garden. 🙂