It is undoubtedly very convenient to always have fresh herbs and spices available. They can be processed into aromatic teas without drying. Professional chefs also always strive to use fresh herbs in their recipes. The herbs give your dishes more flavor and an overall fresher aroma. But they also grow their own herbs.
Yet when we visit our local supermarket and look for fresh herbs and spices, we are often left disappointed. Since dried herbs and spices are still more popular with most people and are easier to transport, stores rarely have a good selection of fresh ones. And when they do, bundles often come at astronomical prices. You can never be sure whether the aromatic plants have been sprayed with pesticides or not.
Wouldn’t it be nice to do like the chefs and just grow your own herbs and spices? You don’t even need a large outdoor garden. Herbs are among the easiest plants to care for and grow practically everywhere – on the balcony, in the greenhouse, even in the kitchen on the windowsill. The more you cut them, the faster they grow back! We want to dedicate today’s article to this topic and show you how easy it is to grow your own herbs.
Growing herbs is much easier and faster than you think!
These fragrant plants are not only delicious, but also very healthy
Grow annual, biennial or perennial herbs
All plants fall into one of these three categories, and herbs are no exception. It’s important to know if your favorite herb is annual, biennial, or perennial because its care needs directly depend on it.
Annual plants grow rapidly, but have to be resown every year. Most perennial plants go into dormancy during the winter and grow out again the following spring. Biennials combine behaviors from both categories—they often go into a wintering phase in the first year, but die by the end of the second and need to be seeded again in the third.
However, if you don’t like annual plants because they require way too much work, that doesn’t mean you have to give up a particular type of herb. For example, Genovese basil, one of the most popular and commonly grown fresh herbs, is an annual plant. However, there are numerous subspecies, hybrids and varieties of basil that are perennial. These include red basil, Thai basil, garden basil and others. The African basil can even be harvested all year round, but is not hardy.
In terms of appearance and taste, the various types and varieties differ slightly from the “classic” Genovese basil, but are much better suited for hobby gardeners.
Wouldn’t you like to buy seeds for annual plants every year?
Just let them bloom and form their own seeds
Traditional Italian basil is sensitive to cold and is an annual
Location outdoors and indoors
Almost all herbs can be grown in pots at home. However, for outdoor areas such as the garden or balcony, you must either choose herbs that can withstand our colder climates, or simply grow annual herbs that provide aromatic leaves in late spring, summer and early fall, then die back in winter.
Whether in a pot at home or outdoors, herbs have very similar care requirements. They all want a sunny spot that is protected from strong winds and draughts, but also from the scorching afternoon sun. The best locations are usually along the south facade of the house, on a south-facing balcony or window. Depending on the type of herb, the plants need between 4 and 8 hours of sunlight. A compromise of 6 hours a day is ideal for all species.
There are very simple ways to tell if your herbs are getting too little or too much sunlight. When the plants don’t get enough, they grow tall, scrawny, and lean toward the window. However, if their leaf tips are becoming dry and brown as if burned, then your plants are getting too much direct sunlight.
Mediterranean herbs usually need a lot of light and warmth
However, dill, mint, coriander and lemon balm can also thrive in semi-shade
The perfect substrate mixtures for herbs
Soil is the second most important part of growing healthy, fast-growing, and aromatic herbs. Unfortunately, unlike the compromise you can make in terms of exposure, soil requirements vary greatly depending on the herbs you choose to grow and the regions they come from.
Of course, different floors still have things in common. Herb soil needs to be fertile and very well draining as these plants often suffer from root rot.
The ideal soil for woody Mediterranean herbs such as B. Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, and Oregano is made from 2 parts mature compost, 1 part garden sand, and 1 part perlite. Their substrate is almost like cactus soil – it is dry and coarse-grained, but still rich in nutrients.
Most other herbs grow well in a soil that is 1 part compost, 1 part perlite, and 1 part coir. This substrate is much closer to ordinary garden soil, but does not contain any environmentally harmful substances such as e.g. B. Peat. Both of these mixes are super easy to make at home, and they’re also a lot cheaper than pre-mixed potting soil.
There is no one perfect soil for all herbs
Divide your garden bed into two areas for the two main types of herbs
Water and fertilize herbs properly
As previously mentioned, herbs often suffer from root rot from overwatering. As with most other plants, less water is better than too much. Always measure moisture levels before watering by sticking a finger a few inches into the soil. When the substrate feels dry and doesn’t stick to your fingers, water thoroughly. If the substrate still feels damp, check again in a day or two.
On hot summer days it is important to check the soil daily. Water mostly in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is not shining that strongly. Water droplets can act like tiny magnifying glasses and burn the leaves of your herbs.
If you have mixed the soil according to the instructions above, your annual and biennial herbs will not need any additional fertilization for the rest of their lives. The best way to fertilize perennial herbs is quite simply to incorporate some compost into their topsoil once a year. The ideal time for this is when the plants are starting to wake up from their hibernation and put out new leaves.
It is best to harvest and water herbs early in the morning
Then the concentration of essential oils, and thus taste and aroma, is at its highest
The more often you cut the herbs, the faster and denser they will grow back
You too can grow your very own aromatic herbs and cook like the famous pros. Most herbs are very easy to care for and require very little attention on your part, but reward your effort with bountiful harvests.
In the greenhouse, the harvest season starts earlier and ends later
Many things can be used as flower pots and herb beds, so let your creativity run free
A vertical garden like this saves you a lot of space on the balcony
Many herbs are easier to propagate from cuttings than from seeds