The best herbs to grow are the ones you will use. Consider what dishes you normally cook and what flavours you enjoy. Once you start to get the hang of growing, then you can branch out and grow other herbs in the garden.
Here’s what you need to start growing herbs at home.
Most herbs prefer to grow in full sun, so position them in a spot where they will receive at least half-a-day of direct sunlight. Always check plant labels to confirm the best position for your herbs. There are herbs, like chives, coriander, lemon balm, mint and parsley, that don’t mind growing in slightly more shaded spots.
Grow herbs in moist, well-drained soil, enriched with plenty of organic matter, like Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser. If the soil does not drain well, improve the soil by adding organic matter, like compost, aged manures and gypsum to the area and forking in well. If the soil is too difficult to work, consider growing in raised garden beds or planting into pots. Always use a quality potting mix, like Yates Premium Potting Mix when planting in pots or planters.
Herbs with soft, rich-green leaves, like basil, coriander, and mint will thrive with regular watering, especially during hot and dry conditions. However, Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage can tolerate drought-like conditions, provided they are well established.
Most herbs are annuals, which means they only last the year, so it pays to make the most out of the growing and harvest season. To boost plant growth, feed herbs regularly with Yates Thrive Natural Vegie & Herb Liquid Plant Food.
Sap-sucking insects such as aphids and whitefly love the soft foliage of herbs. Treat them at first sight with Yates Nature’s Way Vegie & Herb Spray. It’s approved for use in organic gardens and is suitable for use on all herbs and vegies.
Pinch or remove flower buds from herbs like basil, sage, and thyme. This helps them last longer as plants direct their energy back into producing leaves. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for coriander, which can often prematurely ‘bolt’ or set seed when there is a sudden change in temperature. Once it bolts, coriander becomes bitter and tough; completely inedible. It’s best to plant coriander at the start of the cooler months and look for a ‘slow bolt’ variety.
Seeds are the easiest ways to grow herbs. You can sow them direct where they are to grow in outdoor garden beds or in pots. Alternatively, you can sow seeds into a seed-raising trays and allow them to grow indoors or in a protected spot before transplanting into the garden or pots.
There are many herbs that can easily be grown from cuttings.
For shrubby or woody herbs, like rosemary, bay tree, thyme, and oregano, you can take softwood cuttings in spring or semi-hardwood cuttings in late autumn or early winter (wood is relatively firm, but still flexible).
For soft annuals, like mint (all varieties), basil, lemon verbena and stevia, simply cut lengths 10-15 cm long, remove the lower leaves and place in a glass of water. Roots should form within 10-14 days. Once roots are 15 cm, plant up in individual pots.
When planting herbs, it’s best to group them based on their growing needs. For example, basil and rosemary love full sun, but basil needs more watering so should be planted with other moisture-loving plants, like parsley and chives.
Mint deserves its own pot or spot in the garden. It likes to spread, so keeping it contained will prevent it from running rampant and overtaking the garden. This is the same for all mint species, so give them a dedicated garden bed if you wish to grow an assortment of mint.
Rosemary and bay tree grow into small-medium shrubs, so it’s best to give them space to grow. Plus, they’re long-lived, unlike most herbs, so they will need a permanent home in full sun.
Provided you have a brightly lit spot, like a windowsill or kitchen bench, you can grow a pot of herbs indoors. You may also like to try micro herbs or microgreens which are vegie or herb sprouts that can be added to salads, sandwiches or stir-fries. They germinate quickly and only take 2-3 weeks to harvest.