Whether you love to cook, love to potter in your garden, or simply wish to attract bees and butterflies, growing your organic herbs is a great idea and hobby.
Why Grow Organic Herbs
Herbs are a beautiful addition to your garden, and they not only look, smell, and taste great, but they are also very beneficial for attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies to your garden. They require very little space and can be grown in a garden bed, pots, and even as a border in some cases.
When you grow your own food, you know exactly what goes into producing it, and you benefit from the freshest, most natural, and tastiest harvest imaginable. There is no better way of being ensured that what you eat is 100% organic than by growing it yourself.
Herbs are perhaps the easiest edible plants to grow.
Garden Bed or Pots for Growing Herbs
Herbs will grow very well in pots, however, when planted in a garden bed, they will spread out. By planting in pots, it may be easier to control herbs like mint which can take over; if you prefer a wilder growth of herbs in your garden, garden beds are the way to go.
Most herbs used in a Western diet are native to the Mediterranean. They will thrive in well-drained soil and sunny conditions. They can be grown from seed, purchased as seedlings, or even propagated from layering, division, and cuttings.
Pots can be advantageous as you can move them to suit the season and provide optimal amounts of sunlight in winter and dappled light in the height of summer where necessary. It is also easier to control the soil conditions in a pot. Pots are easier to access to care for and harvest your herbs.
Herbs that grow better in pots:
- Mint (best contained in a pot as it can be invasive)
- Lemon balm
Best Herbs to Grow Outdoors
Most herbs will do great outside, however some need to be sown indoors and later transplanted in spring to avoid frosts. These include coriander, marjoram, basil, and French tarragon.
Ideal, easy to grow outdoor herbs include:
Companion Planting Herbs
Companion planting enables careful placement of plants which are beneficial to each other. Some plants should never be grown together, while others will thrive by being planted together.
Companion planting the right herbs can:
- Discourage pests
- Attract beneficial insects (butterflies, bees, ladybugs, etc)
- Increase flavor and essential oil content
- Maximize nutrient availability
- Enhance sustainability
- Basil with tomatoes, oregano, asparagus and capsicum/chilli
- Garlic with most other plants
- Mint with tomatoes and most other plants – but avoid combining different varieties of mint
- Sage with rosemary
- Chamomile with onion, cucumber, or cabbage
- Tarragon with eggplant
- Rosemary with beans, sage, cabbage, broccoli, and peppers
- Lavender with cauliflower
- Chives with carrots
- Coriander with dill, parsley, and anise
Combinations to Avoid:
- Basil with sage
- Dill with lavender, fennel, caraway, carrots or tomatoes
- Rosemary with pumpkin or carrots
- Fennel with any other plant
- Mint with parsley
Tips for your Outdoor Herb Garden
Plan your herb garden before you get started.
- most herbs require at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, more is better. For example, thyme, basil, coriander (cilantro) and parsley prefer full sun.
- Lemon balm, tarragon, chives, and mint, however, prefer a partially shaded position.
Soil for herbs needs to be well-drained and contain compost. Most herbs require soil that is neutral to alkaline on the pH scale. Go to Organic Soils and Fertilizer to learn more about your soil type.
for a guaranteed organic garden, plant organic seeds from scratch. Sow seeds directly for pot planting; you may plant into a growing tray to later transplant into a garden bed if planting in the ground. Seeds need to be kept moist until germination occurs.
Some herbs need to be sown where they will mature as they don’t transplant well; these include chervil, fennel, and dill.
- Most herbs prefer to dry out a little between waterings, but there are exceptions. Lavender needs to dry out completely between watering, whereas basil prefers to remain moist.
- herbs need very little fertilizer, and over-fertilizing may make leaves flourish, but will also diminish the scent and flavor of your herbs.
- control pests naturally – remove them by hand. Some herbs will repel pests – e.g. basil helps repel flies and mosquitoes; mint repels ants, aphids, and mosquitoes. You may use Organic Pest Control if you require something to help with the control of pests.
Annual herbs require replanting every year:
- basil, coriander, parsley, chamomile, marjoram, dill, chervil.
Perennial herbs come back on their own each year:
- lavender, mint, rosemary, lemon balm, tarragon, thyme, sage, sorrel.
Fresh herbs from your organic garden are healthy, nutritious, and provide a punch of flavor to your cooking. Herb gardening is easy and the ideal way for novice gardeners to get started. So what are you waiting for?