Although the use of herbs seems to have exploded in recent times due somewhat to the trendy cooking shows of today, Herbs actually go back quite a bit further than most people think. Look in the bible and you will find they were quite the household staple. There are also many herb references especially those used in healing which are reported throughout some of our most ancient civilizations.
Herb growing is not limited just to gardeners and chefs as there are many, many uses and purposes for herbs. From flavoring food to medicinal treatment, decorative gardens or even partnering them up with specific plants in your garden to fight pests there really is no end to the use of herbs. They can be used fresh or dried if you prefer.
There are many ways to grow your herbs and this can vary depending on what you will be using them for. For cooking, from a few of your favorites growing in an indoor garden, or a small pot just outside your windowsill to fully fledged, multiple variety garden plots in your yard! Also do not disregard the decorative beauty of many herb varieties which look (and smell) great especially when in flowering stages.
Herbs love and thrive on quality well drained soil and apart from that, they are pretty hardy and don’t require a lot of preparation. Depending on the variety they can be grown as shrubs, trees, annuals and perennials. Due to their pest controlling properties, herbs are hardly ever affected by diseases or insects. There are a few exceptions however they mainly occur in extreme weather conditions or a few low growing varieties. Again, it depends on the herb variety as to whether they love the sun, which most do, or those “softer” types that prefer the shade!
Herb seedlings and established herbs can be found in any nursery and even many supermarkets of today however the true joy of herb growing (and of course any home grown product) is to plant from seeds. If you have the time, care and interest, nothing beats the satisfaction from taking a single seed and planting it, nourishing and caring for it until it is ready for use as a fully matured, fresh herb. In this age of growing your own and “green” ideals, it is also great to do your bit for the environment by growing your own food. You will also find the variety of herbs available as seeds is much greater than what you can buy ready-made and you can take advantage of some very old heirloom varieties that you just can’t buy already growing.
To grow your own herbs from seed is relatively easy but there are a few tips to follow: Use a good quality, well drained soil in either seedling trays or shallow pots. Herbs roots don’t have much interest in growing deep so make sure when you sow them, you don’t cover them too deep. A general rule of thumb is the finer the seed, then the shallower you must sow it. The best time to plant is nearing the end of winter. You can then “prick them out” for full outdoor planting in the spring. You can grow the majority of herb varieties from seeds however some of them like dill and coriander don’t like the transplant process so these are best planted straight into the ground or directly into their permanent pots.