The Scents of an Herb Garden

Written by Leanna Serras

Growing herbs can be a satisfying pursuit. Not only can you use herbs in the kitchen, but many of them also make beautiful plants as well both indoors and outdoors in the gardens. Herbs are ideal for beginning gardeners because they tend to be low maintenance plants. Decide which herbs you want to grow, considering the ones you like to use in the kitchen and around the home. Then plan an herb garden to provide for your cooking and other needs.

Choose a Growing Area

Ideally, a growing area for herbs should have rich soil, and it should be high enough to drain water away when it rains. An herb garden should receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. More sun is fine for the plants. If the soil is not rich, you can enhance it with compost or peat moss. If you don't have a spot in the ground to grow herbs, you can also grow herbs in containers on a sunny porch or patio. Herbs also grow well indoors in a sunny window.

Medicinal Herbs

Growing your own medicinal herbs can be a worthwhile pursuit. Chamomile leaves are delightful when dried and used in tea, and this can help with anxiety and relaxation. Other medicinal herbs such as echinacea, ginger, ginseng, and goldenseal are easy to grow, and they have medicinal properties that you can use to treat a variety of ailments. Some herbs such as cilantro and turmeric can overlap between a medicinal and culinary herb garden, too.

Culinary Herbs

A culinary herb garden can be a joy to have right outside the back door. When you need fresh herbs for a meal, just step outside with your scissors and clip a few leaves off of your herb plants. Some culinary herbs such as oregano, dill, and chives are perennial, which means that they'll return year after year. Other herbs like basil, rosemary, parsley, and sage will need to be planted yearly so you can enjoy them in your cooking.

Aromatherapy Herbs

Grow herbs to use for aromatherapy. Herbs can improve emotional wellbeing, they can lift the mood, they can help with concentration and focus, they can help you sleep better, and they can even alleviate stress. An aromatherapy herb garden can add scents to the air around the growing area, which can improve your mood when you're working in the garden. Herbs to add to an aromatherapy garden include lavender, mint, lemon balm, and rosemary.

Harvesting Herbs

Keep the plants watered evenly, and fertilize the plants once or twice each month. Watch for blossoms on the plants, and pinch them off when they begin appearing. If you allow the blossoms to become mature, the plants will become woody and they won't live as long. As the plants begin to become larger and fuller, you can start harvesting leaves and stems. Herbs respond readily to harvesting, and they will usually grow more energetically when you trim them regularly. Don't remove more than one-third of a plant at one time, however. Continue to harvest from the plants until the first frost.

Using the Herbs

Use fresh herbs in cooking. If you have more herbs than you can use, you can blanch them briefly in boiling water and freeze them to enjoy during the winter months. Tie small bundles of herbs together and hang them upside down in a dark closet for two or three weeks to dry them. After the herbs dry, store them loosely in plastic bags and use them in cooking or medicinally.