Herb Gardening Tips

Read these 32 Herb Gardening Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Herb Supplements tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What do I plant my seeds in?

Recycle containers for seeds

Save your cardboard egg cartons and you have ready made seedling trays. No need to buy the fancy ones.

   
What herbs grow best in a windowbox?

Perfect Herbs for Small Spaces

Easy herbs for a successful windowbox garden are:
Sage, thyme, basil, oregano and chives. If you have other favorites, look for dwarf varieties

   
How can I use the herbs in my garden as pest control?

Herb Garden Design

Design your herb garden for both color and function.
Choose carefully the herbs you think you will use.
If you are unsure about which herbs to start with,
take a look at the lovely pictures on this
site---you're bound to get lots of ideas.

   
Which type of herb will grow fastest?

Annuals vs. Perennials

Annuals should grow easily, and quickly. Perennials
will be much, much slower to germinate, so I suggest
that if this is your first excursion into herb seed
planting, you stick with annuals.

   
When should I begin to fertilize my plants?

When to Start Fertilizing

Fertilize your plants once you see their "true" leaves
sprouting. Dilute your fertilizer to half strength, at
the most, and feed the plants whenever you water them.
You want to use a fertilizer that will stimulate root
growth. This is important in herb gardening! Look for
a high number on your fertilizer, as the middle number
shown. That means it's good for root growth.
Something such as a 10-52-10 ratio.

   
What kind of soil should I use if I´m planting outdoors?

Topsoil And Compost

Outdoor herb gardening should ideally be done where new topsoil and compost have been recently added, within the last few years, and then fertilizing with any type of fertilizer really shouldn't be necessary.

   
When is the best time of day to harvest?

The Early Bird Gets the Mildew

Wait until after the dew dries on your plants before harvesting. You risk mildew if you don't. Your plants oils are at their best once they have been warmed from the sun.

   
What do I do with all these seeds?

Seed Packets

Your everyday packet of seeds will no doubt contain
more seeds than you will require to begin your
garden, unless you've decided to feed your county. :)
Save at least half of those seeds, as a rule, for
another planting, as they can be stored for several
years without a problem.

   
Do I want to keep the Nettles that I have growing in my yard?

Nettles for The Pests

Nettles repel pests and attract beneficial insects. Plant some today!

   
Why should I pinch my herb plants?

Herbs Love to Be Picked!

The more you harvest your plants, the healthier they become. You are trying to produce a sturdy, full plant and pinching off tips is the best way to do that.

   
Should I thin my plants after they start growing?

Thinning Your Plants

Once your herbs begin to sprout, if they get too
crowded in your little pots, thin them out. You can
buy "peat pots", which can then be planted directly
in the ground or your larger containers, to replant
the transplanted sproutings in. This is a very good
way to go about thinning your plants, it won't disturb
the important roots of the plant, and you'll benefit
by having more of what you want; herbs!

   
How can I use the herbs in my garden as pest control?

Companion Gardening

"Companion planting" is an excellent way to keep the
pests down to a low roar. Lavender contains a natural
insecticide and will help to bring down the number of
pests on nearby plants in your garden. Basil is known
to repel flies and mosquitoes. Plant garlic, chives,
coriander, anise, nasturtium and petunia to help repel
aphids. Chives are also good at repelling mites.
Marigold and nasturtium will help to keep the white
flies at bay. If you're having a problem with a
particular herb garden pest, please email me at
herbguru@lifetips.com, and I
will try to help you find a quick solution!

   
How can I rid my herb garden of a large infestation problem?

When nothing else works...

If you are unfortunate enough to have a heavy-duty
infestation problem, it's almost always best to just
be rid of the plants themselves, so they don't infect
everything else in your garden. Cut off the afflicted
leaves, or take the plants entirely if they are
completely inundated and sprays are just not working,
and start again.

   
Can I grow my seedlings indoors?

Indoor Lighting

The best indoor lighting, besides that very sunny
windowsill, is under "grow lights", in a nice, cool
place. A regular cool white fluorescent light bulb,
placed just a few inches above the young seeds, is
perfect. Don't worry about the light source being
close! It must be.

   
Which herbal garden pests will I most likely have to do battle with?

The Most Common Pests

The most common herb pests are aphids, spider mites, and white flies. Aphids are green or black in color, some have wings and fly while other aphid types don't. Spider mites leave a spider web calling card; you can't usually see spider mites, but they're most likely around if you're seeing the very thin, spider web-like grids they construct while destroying your herbs. White flies will appear as tiny white bugs that fly away when you move or jiggle a plant.

   
How can I make my own safe fertilizer?

Herbal Fertilizer

Mix equal parts dry nettles and dry red raspberry leaf: I often use 1 handful of each to a gallon of water. Leave alone for 1 week to ferment and there you have it....fantastic fertilizer!!

   
Is it hard to grow herbs?

Transplanting

Dig a hole slightly deeper and wider than the pot the
herb came in. Gently remove the herb from its pot,
taking the soil around the roots with it.
Set the herb in the prepared hole, and fill in with
the surrounding soil, gently tamping the soil with
your hands.
Leave an inch or two of bare stem under the leaves
and above the soil to make room for mulch.
Apply about an inch of mulch to help keep soil
temperatures even and evenly moist. Mulch keeps out
weeds, too.
Water with a gentle drizzle.

   
Why are my sproutings leaning in one direction?

Turn Your Seedling Pots

Be sure to turn the pots every few days so when the
plants take off, they don't twist in one direction
toward that sun or bulb.

   
How do I start an herb garden from seeds?

Starting from seeds

Seeds will require sterilized soil. You don't want to
begin your plant's life with bugs at the root! Using
small pots with good drainage holes and a few pebbles
strewn in the bottom of each, simply fill the pots
loosely with soil and dampen it nicely, then shake
some seed onto the top of the damp soil, pressing down
firmly but not too hard on the seeds. Give them a
little pat. This is the way I've grown my seedlings
for years, and it works quite well.

   
How do I use old coffee grounds in my garden?

A Shot of Nitrogen

Herbs love coffee grounds and used tea leaves. Spread them at the base of plants for a shot of nitrogen, which helps leaves grow.
-- "The Good Herb," by Judith Benn Hurley

   
How do I start to grow an herb garden?

Herb Gardening

If you are planning an herb garden, you'll be happy
to know that many herbs prefer full sun and poor soil.
They are often considered weeds by farmers.
Of course, they'll thrive if carefully tended,
but if you don't have the time for that, herbs
are a great garden choice.

   
Should I thin my plants after they start growing?

Sage

Sage grows up to 3 feet tall, with beautiful leaves
and dark purple flowers. It grows from either seed
or cutting, but I have found cuttings to be more hardy.
Sage plants grow into bushes that may be as wide as
they are tall.

   
How should I harvest my herbs?

Harvesting Flowers

Most herbs are ready to be harvested just as the
flower buds first appear. The leaves contain the
maximum amount of volatile oils at this stage of
growth, giving the greatest flavor and fragrance
to the finished product.

   
Should I spray my herbs with water?

Mist Your Sproutings

Spray your plants with a bit of water every day. Keep them
moist and happy. A good lighting and moist, not wet, plant
combination will work every time.

   
Why would I use a fertilizer to grow herbs?

Fertilizing

Fertilizing is particularly important for containered herbs, since nutrients from the soil cannot be naturally replaced. Feed your plants LIGHTLY, with a good, natural fertilizer during the planting season (late winter through early fall).

   
How do I start to grow an herb garden?

Good Soil

Before planting, be very sure the soil you're using is free of artificial pesticides, chemical weed killers, and all toxins. This is imperative. Who wants to grow their herbs in tainted soil? No one!

   
How can I keep pests from ruining my herb garden?

Natural Pest Control Starter Tip

Vigilant pest control is vital. Catching a minor problem before it creates havoc is key. Check the underside of leaves and foliage, as this is a favorite spot of pests. Note any sticky areas on the stems and stalks, this can mean that pests are sucking the sap from inside the stems.

   
Where should I put the seed pots?

Potting Your Seeds

Select a very sunny window to set your little pots on.
This does not mean a hot windowsill! Indoor heat will
destroy your herbs; find a spot that's very sunny, but
cool. Try your attic, try your basement, both areas
should provide less heat while in the sun. Keep the
plants away from indoor heating systems.

   
Why would I use a natural fertilizer?

Natural Fertilizers

Use an organic fertilizer, such as liquefied seaweed. Fish fertilizer is probably going to be more readily available for use, but it will need to be diluted before using to avoid burning the roots of the plant and imparting a very fishy smell to your garden or potted herbs.

   
Which herbs should I grow?

Harvesting

The best way to pick herbs is to keep in mind their
dignity. Don't just hack off careless handfuls, roots
and all, or you'll traumatize the plants.
Use scissors, shears, or sharp fingernails to snip
two- to three-inch springs from herbs such as thyme,
oregano, marjoram and rosemary.
-- "The Good Herb," by Judith Benn Hurley

   
Which herbs should I grow?

Choosing Herbs for Your Garden

How will you be using your herbs? Mostly for cooking?
For medicinal use? Both? Thinking about a tea garden?
Or do you just want to integrate some beautiful herb
plants into your flower garden for added color and
beauty? Think these questions through and you will find
your answers. I have an A - Z list of herbs to help
guide you on this site!

   
How can I rid my herb garden of pests without using chemicals?

Natural Insecticides

There are some very powerful insecticides on the market, which will all attack these pests nicely.
However, they are also quite toxic, and I recommend against using any of them.
Instead, try using something made from nature itself,
such as pyrethrum spray, made from daisies, which is quite effective yet completely nontoxic for mammals.
It will harm fish and birds, however, so please don't use pyrethrum spray near these types of pets.
Insecticide soaps are wonderful organic pest controllers, and cause no harm to anyone, fish and birds included.
The key to using these soaps is to be aware that they must be sprayed onto the plants very, very thoroughly, and very, very regularly, to be effective.
Even ordinary household dish soap that has been diluted in warm water will kill many garden pests if sprayed very completely
over the leaves of your plants.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Jolyn Wells-Moran