Herb gardens are perfect for urban areas where you may have limited space to set up your plants. Adding herbs to your home or outdoor space increases the visual appeal, and there is something to be said for being able to snip off a few sprigs or leaves for flavoring your food.
Planning an herb garden should first begin with selecting plants that will yield the best harvest. Herbs fall into two main categories that include perennial and annual plants.
Perennial plants are those that come back year after year.
Annuals tend to have one main growing season.
With an urban garden, it may also be necessary to select smaller plants. Parsley, chives and dill only require about a foot of space to flourish. Rosemary, sage and mint need around three to four feet to reach their maximum growth. These can still do well in smaller containers, but they might not yield as much during harvests.
This perennial plant is drought tolerant and tends to thrive in our Arizona climate. Rosemary grows as a bushy plant that can serve as a decorative accent if you have a small area of xeriscaping around your house. It can also be planted in a larger container.
Make sure to plant the rosemary in an area where it can receive six to eight hours of sunlight and water it regularly. Then, you can snip off sprigs of it whenever you need it for seasoning.
The scent of a mint plant serves as a natural pest-repellant. Placing the plant on a windowsill or near other plants can help to keep insects away. Mint tends to be easier to grow from a plant that has already sprouted. This herb also prefers full sun.
Once it begins to grow, the leaves can be plucked from the top to use in drinks and recipes. There are also several varieties of mint that all have different benefits. Try growing chocolate mint to add an element of interest to the garden.
The sweet leaves of a stevia plant are wonderful for cutting out sugar in your diet. Stevia does best when it is planted after the last frost of the year, and the leaves can be harvested through the fall and stored for the winter months.
A stevia leaf can be put into a cup of tea for a natural sweetener. The leaves can also be dried and made into a powder for use in other recipes.
The months of February through May are the best times for planting basil in Arizona. During the hotter months of the summer, the plants do require some light shade to keep them from drying out. Regular deep watering is also important for helping the plant to thrive as the weather heats up.
For a savory touch to meals, chives can be grown in a container garden that sits in the kitchen. Chives provide a taste that is similar to onions and garlic.
They can be planted early in the spring and should be watered until the water begins to drain through the holes in the bottom of the container. The soil should dry out before it is watered again. Chives can be harvested once they hit around 6” tall.
Are You New to Gardening?
The beauty of an herb garden is that you can just keep adding new plants as your green thumb grows. Remember that there is typically a small learning curve with any new plants. Watch each one carefully to make sure that they get enough sunlight and water. Soon, you’ll be able to enjoy adding the fruits of your labor to your favorite recipes.
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