Looking to get into gardening? One of the best ways to get some practice before you commit to a full-fledged flower or vegetable garden is to start an herb garden. You can grow herbs both indoors or outdoors. Keep in mind, though, that plants can grow quite large and become stunted in their pots, so you might consider growing your herbs outdoors.
Here’s a quick beginner’s guide to starting your own outdoor herb garden:
Herbs love full sunlight, but if the temps climb over 90 degrees (as they so often do in Texas), filtered sunlight is best. Consider planting your herbs in the shadow of a tree’s leaves for less-direct sunlight, or in a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Wherever you decide to plant your herbs, make sure they’ll get a good four hours of sun per day.
In general, you should leave approximately one to four feet in diameter around each plant for growth. For the most part, rosemary, sage, mints, oregano and marjoram need about three to four feet; basils, thyme, tarragon and savory need two feet; and cilantro, chives, dill and parsley need one foot of space.
Prepare your soil for planting by digging with a garden fork to loosen up the soil. This will allow water to drain and help your plants put their roots down. Add compost to your soil, about an inch or so on top, and mix it in as you dig. You can then plant your herbs, watering them often (as soon as you notice the soil has gotten dry).
Some herbs take a little precision when it comes to harvesting them, but it’s well worth it in the end. When your plant reaches about at least six to eight inches in length, cut off about one-third of its branches. Cut very close to the leaf intersection, which will help your plants regrow quickly. Some plants’ leaves grow in the center of the plant (like parsley), in which case the oldest branches should be removed completely to allow for new growth.