Starting Your Own Herb Garden

Troy, from I Refuse to Recede and DTL Herbs LTD, is sharing tips for starting an herb garden with us today.

Thinking of starting an herb garden?

How to start an herb gardenHerbs have been a part of our lives for as long as recorded history. Early medicine was based almost entirely on herbs, and many of the compounds from those herbs are still found in modern medicine.

Because of their strong aroma, herbs were often used to mask unpleasant smells. They were used in embalming and were worn on the body to hide smells during the time when bathing was not practiced.

Herbal extracts still play a vital role in the production of perfumes ad cosmetics.

Because they had a strong flavor, herbs were added to food to cover the taste of spoiled meat in the days before refrigeration. Even after we developed ways to preserve foods, we still use herbs to enhance flavors as we cook.

Herbs have a rich strong history, and can be fun to study, to grow and to use. They are often low maintenance plants, that can bring enjoyment to our lives, as we relax in the garden, or as we use them, to cook and to clean, as well as many other uses around the home.

So many people tell me they want to grow herbs but aren’t sure how to get started. So I wanted to write some tips for how to start an herb garden.
How to start an herb garden
The first thing you need to ask yourself is how much room you have. Do you want to grow a small tabletop garden? A container garden on your patio? Or do you want a big herb garden you can walk through, with benches and a gazebo? An herb garden can take as much or as little room as you want it to.

Most herbs will be happiest with at least 8 hours a day of sunlight, although some can do well with less. Sunlight helps the plants produce oils and that is where the flavor comes from, so herbs grown in the sun tend to have more flavor than those grown in the shade.

Most herbs like well drained soil. They should be watered regularly, but allowed to dry between watering, so a swampy location is probably not the best choice.

Once you have determined a location, prepare your soil. In you are planting a tabletop garden, a good potting soil is probably your best choice. For patio containers, I use top soil, mixed 50/50 with compost. If you have room for a bigger garden, herbs will grow well in most soils. If the soil will grow vegetables and flowers, it will grow herbs as well. For the beginner, I recommend that you choose five herbs to start. Some of the more popular herbs for beginners include:

Basil: An annual used in Italian and Mediterranean cooking. Easy to grow, very aromatic.

Chives: The smallest member of the onion family. Easy to grow, attractive purple flowers.

Dill: A self seeding annual, grows up to four feet tall. Dwarf varieties are available for tabletops.

Thyme: A small perennial good for both indoor and outdoor gardens. Many varieties available.

Rosemary: A perennial, grown as an annual in cooler zones. Great for patio containers.

Oregano: A fast growing perennial used in Italian and Mediterranean cooking.

Marjoram: A smaller sweeter member of the Oregano works great in tabletop gardens.

Mint: Easy to grow, but be careful it can be aggressive if you don’t keep it under control.

Pick herbs that you like to use, that you cook with and understand, and start with those. Growing a garden of unfamiliar plants can be overwhelming and confusing, so start with the ones you know and then add a new plant or two each year. Although many herbs can be grown from seed, transplants will give you a head start and get you on your way to an enjoyable garden much faster.

Troy is the author of I Refuse to Recede and DTL Herbs LTD and has been growing herbs for 25 years. He started when he worked in a restaurant and wanted to cook the same foods at home, but couldn’t afford to buy all the fresh herbs. Now, he grows them to use, but also for fun and enjoyment.



  1. Elsa says

    Great information! I actually started my entire garden indoors this year (instead of buying plants). I am growing them under fluorescent lights and they seem to be doing well so far. I will plant some herbs as well, and then direct plant the rest. We go through TONS of herbs.

  2. Beth says

    You make it sound so easy. I may just have to try this. We'll see. I tend to kill everything I grow. I am attempting to keep a rosemary bush alive. Thanks so much for the tips.

  3. tamilyn says

    I FINALLY after 6 years of trying, was able to produce some herbs last summer. The only thing that worked was buying some good, healthy pots at a local nursery. Spendy compared to seed, but I didn't tear my hair out wondering what I did wrong, plus much cheaper than buying them in the grocery store.

  4. CrystalsCozyKitchen says

    I love having fresh herbs! I started my inside herbs last year. The only thing to be wary of is adding a new plant bought commercially to the same area as the other plants. I had an aphid invasion after doing that! Killed the plant I bought, all my parsley and basil.

  5. says

    Great advice Alea! I’m growing parsley, basil and coriander at the moment from seed and they’re all growing well(inside). I also have thyme, sage and mint growing in containers. I use parsley more than any herb so I will be planting more seeds in another week (just in case).

    I have a problem with mint – it attracts all the cats in the neighbourhood! I have to grow it in a pot and place it out of their way – a little difficult since they manage to climb anything!

  6. Alison Fullerton-Black says

    Starting your own Herb garden – I planted some seeds of herbs in a little pot in the kitchen and greew to about an inch and then they died!!! I dont know what i did wrong as i used to make sure that i misted them twice a dat morning and evening!!! They were sitting by a window so getting light and i also put some cling film over them.

    Any ideas!!!!


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