Fun-Size Farming: Starting With Herbs (The legal kind. Unless you're in Colorado, where all "herbs" are legal. If you catch my drift.)

I know what you're thinking. Herbs are kind of anticlimactic. If you're going to put the effort in, why not go for the gusto and try heirloom tomatoes from seed and ghost peppers? The reasons I say start with herbs are threefold:

 

1) If you are a total beginner, herbs actually don't take effort. Like, none beyond planting them. And although you can't exactly eat a dinner made solely of herbs, they're immediately rewarding. Take some scissors and snip some fresh parsley for your spaghetti, some dill for your egg salad, some chives for your bagel with lox! (Or, let's be honest, to put in a sour creamy herb dip to make the veggies you're growing palatable.)

2) Herbs are excellent plants for almost anywhere: inside on a sunny windowsill, outside in the landscape, or you can even go fancy (here's the gusto you were looking for) and build an herb spiral.

herb spiral.JPG

3) If you are trying to grow other things, you can almost certainly count on the herbs to succeed. If your fruits and veggies succeed, herbs are an excellent compliment. If they don't, well your herbs will be there for you.

Bonus reason to grow herbs: They can be dried, made into a sachet (yeah right, who am I kidding; but they COULD be), and tossed into your chicken coop for good smells and vibes.

Am I oversimplifying? Yes. But only if you want to become an herb scientist. If you're just a person, this is all you need to know to actually start.

Basil. (I pronounce it Britishly, as Bazzle. And if you say bay-sill, you're doing it wrong, IMO.

Basil. (I pronounce it Britishly, as Bazzle. And if you say bay-sill, you're doing it wrong, IMO.

Seeds or Starts?

When you're a brand new beginner, I recommend a combination of both seeds and starts (aka small plants that are ready to be planted).

Here's why:

Some herbs are quite easy to grow from seed (especially in mild climates), and it's fun and educational to watch the process.

Sometimes, for various reasons, seeds won't start the way you want them to. For those that prefer Mediterranean climates (don't we all?), like basil, it's quick and easy to just pick up a start from anywhere (hardware store, nursery, sometimes even grocery stores) and plop it into place at your residence.

Some easy ones to try from seed: creeping thyme, dill

How much sun?

Generally herbs like sunny places. So as much as you can give them. If you're planting outdoors, you can go ahead and add some herbs to existing landscaping. Or you can start a potted herb garden, or a windowsill garden. If you're growing indoors, it's essential the herbs are in a very sunny, all-day-kind-of-sunny window, to give yourself the best shot.

How much water?

Depends. I mean, nobody's going to complain about a consistently moist soil environment. Some of them will complain about drying out, though. Rosemary is NOT one of them. Rosemary doesn't mind being a little parched (which is why she goes at the top of the herb spiral: most sun, most heat, least retained moisture). Chives and parsley can hold their water.

 

IMPORTANT: If you're growing in pots and/or indoors, consistent watering is KEY. Pots dry out exponentially quicker than ground soil (especially mulched ground).

Whenever I find partially empty old glasses of water, I use the remainder to water indoor plants. That way they're pretty regularly getting a drink, and I don't have to think about pulling down a watering can.

If your indoor herbs happen to be in a kitchen window, all the easier to water them maybe once a day when you're doing dishes.

Conclusion: Just buy some and plant some. Don't overthink it.

The end.