Whether you are interested in growing herbs outdoors or indoors, for pleasure or profit, homegrown herbs offer superior freshness and flavor compared to their grocery store counterparts. If properly cared for, your herb garden will produce a bountiful harvest of luscious, aromatic and tasty leaves that transform an ordinary meal into a gourmet creation.
There are a variety of herbs to choose from whether you are interested in growing basil for the perfect pesto or caprese salad or you fancy the versatile peppermint plant for its ability to treat a headache, liven up a cup of tea, or deter pests and blights. Some herbs, like basil and dill, are “annuals,” which grow and die-off in one year. If you desire herbs that establish a permanent base and continue to grow year after year, then you’ll want to grow catnip, peppermint or horseradish plant, for example. These are called “perennials.”
When it comes to caring for your herb garden, it’s important to understand that unlike your fruit and vegetable garden, your herbs do not have a deep root system. Thus, regular watering with good drainage, is a must. Sun and shade preferences vary because there are hundreds of varieties of herbs.
For the home herb gardener, a generous and sudden supply of herbs in peak season can be overwhelming. Harvest the top leaves, side leaves, and leaf-cluster at the very ends of each stem or branch. These will regenerate within about a week or so if the plants are well-nourished and well-watered. Package fresh herbs in sealable plastic containers or bags and refrigerate them. The excess can be dried for winter use. To dry your herbs, cut them down very low (partial stems and foliage) and then create hanging bundles (banded at the stem) upside down in a cool, dry place.