How to plant an herb garden

Flex your green thumb and grow your own herbs

Whether you have a Juliet balcony or a sprawling yard, growing your own herbs requires little space and minimum upkeep. Jon Summerville, a gardening guru with The Home Depot shares his expert tips and tells us how to enjoy them all year long.

1. Top five herbs
For ease and versatility, the top five herbs to plant are basil, mint, parsley, sage and rosemary. Plus, they are excellent in their fresh form for cooking. Most varieties can be grouped together, but mint should be grown on its own as it can quickly spread and overtake other plants. Mint grows like a weed so 3 to 4 stalks will suffice. If you’re planting mint in a garden, place a collar around the mint stalks (fencing, edging material or even a rubber tire would work) to prevent it from spreading.

TIP: Don’t limit your herbs to cooking. Place a generous sprig of mint in a tea pot, top with boiling water and a dollop of sugar to enjoy fresh mint tea.

2. Potting and soil
Any pot, from ceramic to terra cotta will work, but ensure that it’s between 6” and 12” deep with holes in the bottom for proper drainage. Place stones in the bottom of the pot (a quarter of the way up the pot). This method will gather excess water so herbs don’t sit in wet soil. Then, use a high-quality potting soil such as Miracle-Gro Premium Potting Mix to help enhance the air circulation and drainage, plus it can be used for indoor or outdoor planting. Keep it organic by using a brand that specifically caters to chemical-free herb planting.

TIP: For window box users, line the box with plastic to prevent water leakage.

3. Fertilize
Regularly adding bone meal, organic fertilizers or fish emulsions will encourage herb growth, and are safe for indoor and outdoor use. Another option is using liquid fertilizer, which is easy to apply in small amounts.

4. Let the sun shine
Herb gardens need plenty of light – at least four hours a day. Indoor herb gardens should be placed near a sunny windowsill whenever possible. If space is limited, consider rotating pots to provide each with an equal amount of sunlight.

5. H20 and TLC
It’s important to keep herbs damp, but avoid the common mistake of over-watering. Too much water will cause herbs to wilt or lose flavour. Use a watering can to water herbs in small amounts, either in the morning or at night. Also, check the soil before watering – if it feels moist, wait and water your herbs the next day.

TIP: Label your herbs by simply reusing Popsicle sticks.

6. Trimming
The more you cut your herbs, the more they’ll grow. It’s also important to trim herbs before they begin to flower as this can impact their taste.

7. Move ‘em in
Outdoor herb gardens can be moved indoors once the temperature falls. Pots should be placed near a window sill (provided it is not too frosty) to ensure the herbs receive as much natural sunlight as possible.

TIP: Use a grow light, placed closely to the plants, to supplement the reduction in light.