Green goddess Lynda Hallinan shares with us her top tips for growing your own herb garden. Linda has the most amazing vegetable garden that means she only spends $10 a week at the supermarket!
Fancy fresh basil for pesto, mint for your mojitos or coriander for your curries? Growing your own fresh herbs in pots is easy, inexpensive and super satisfying. Plus you’ll never have to watch another instant potted herb from the supermarket wilt to a miserable death on your kitchen bench. For the same price as those supermarket herbs (which are grown hydroponically), you can plant organic herbs in your garden for a year-round supply.
There are four key things you need to know about growing herbs.
1: Size doesn’t matter
First, you don’t need to have a large backyard – or even a pint-sized one for that matter. If you have a deck, a balcony, or even some porch steps, you can grow herbs. All you need is a pot.
2: Let the sunshine in
Second, for herbs to thrive, they need loads of sunshine. Most herbs need to soak up at least six hours of direct sunlight a day – although, chervil, coriander, chives, lemon balm and mint, will grow in shadier spots. Herbs that come from the Mediterranean, like rosemary, lavender, thyme, marjoram, bay and oregano, grow best in full sun.
3: Wet and wild
Third, get out the hose! No water equals no herbs. However, give them too much water and they’ll sulk (how would you like to wear wet socks all day every day in winter?) Herbs throw a wobbly when their soil is constantly waterlogged, so ensure your potting mix is free-draining. Always choose a container with drainage holes in the bottom and let the soil dry out between waterings. Over winter, you might not need to water at all.
4: Feed me
Finally, herbs also like a good feed from time to time. Buy a bottle of liquid plant food from your garden centre and give them a boost every month. Don’t feed them too much though – some herbs actually taste better if they’re starved, because it concentrates the essential oils in their leaves.
Know your herbs
Now for the botanical know-how. Herbs are either annuals or perennials. Annuals live fast and die young. They go to seed at the end of summer and have to be replanted every year. Annual herbs include basil, coriander and parsley.
Perennial herbs are the best value because they just keep on keeping on. Plant sage, rosemary, mint, chives and thyme and you’ve got ‘em for life.
Choose a good-sized pot (about the size of a bucket), buy a bag of potting mix and then raid the herb section at your local garden centre and you’re in business. And don’t worry about overcrowding your herbs – jam them in tight if you like – because you’ll always be “pruning” them for your kitchen.