Starting Your Garden
Have you ever thought about growing herbs? It will save you money, and you'll love the convenience of being able to pick fresh herbs from your plants while you're cooking.
The great thing about herb gardens is that they can grow either indoors or outdoors. Indoor plants are convenient for picking when you're in the thick of cooking. They require little to no weeding, and you'll never have to worry about frost harming your plants. Outdoor plants typically have more room to grow, which means you can have higher yields from your plants. However, they are more exposed to weather, weeds and pests.
Choosing your Herbs
Whether you're starting from seed or seedling, make sure to pay attention to the plant packages and labels. These will tell you if a plant is best started inside or outside, how long it will take for your plant to start growing from seeds (known as germination), how long it will take the plant to reach maturity, space requirements and any interesting flavour notes you should know.
If you plan to plant herbs to use in the kitchen, pick herbs you will use regularly. Some of our favourite herbs in the kitchen are rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro, oregano, mint and basil. Mint and oregano should be planted in their own containers as they tend to take over and become like a weed.
Caring for your Herbs
For best results, follow care directions on seed packages or seedling tags. If you no longer have them, follow these tips.
- If you are planting your herbs in pots, it's important to have a good drainage system, so the roots don't sit in water. Terra cotta pots, rocks at the bottom, or a drainage hole at the bottom of the pot will keep the roots happy.
- Most herbs need to be watered every day or every second day, allowing the topsoil to dry between watering. Avoid overwatering. Plants can suffocate if waterlogged for too long, stunting the growth and yellowing the leaves. The crown and roots of the herb can also become sensitive to soil bacteria and begin to rot.
- Most herbs require direct sun. Planting them in a sunny area of the garden or placing them in a south-facing window will ensure they get enough sun. You might need to pull some herbs back from windows in the summer if the heat is too intense.
- For indoor plants, it is also good to turn the plant once a week.
I’ve started my plants inside, how can I move my plants outside?
If you want to move your plants outside after starting them inside in the spring, you will need to toughen them up gradually to stand outside weather conditions. This process, often called hardening off, will take a couple of weeks.
Start by leaving your planter outside during the day for a couple of hours. Gradually work up to a full day outside, then leaving them out overnight. Only transplant when the last spring frost has occurred.