How to Select and Plant Herbs

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Coming in a wide variety of scents and flavors, herbs are ideal for gardeners looking for fresh, readily available ingredients to add to their favorite dishes, beverages and home remedies. Herbs are generally easy to grow and can provide plentiful harvests when given the proper care - like routine watering and pruning. They can also be grown in various environments, be transplanted indoors once the winter season rolls in, and even started indoors before spring-friendly planting conditions arrive.
While herb gardens can differ in size and overall makeup, learning how to select the best herbs for your garden using these step-by-step tips is vital for you to enjoy their many benefits well after the first seedling is planted.



Step 1:
Identify the herbs you want to grow. As simple as it is, creating a list will help determine how much space is needed and where herbs should be placed in your garden. Environmental factors like sunlight and wind exposure, as well as neighboring herbs' growing needs and characteristics - like height, spread and growth rate - should be considered during the planning process as they can dictate where specific herbs are planted. For example, herbs like rosemary and thyme should be planted together as they both require full sun exposure, but need less water. Rosemary also grows well with sage; the pairing of the two herbs helps deter garden pests like beetles and flies that may cause plant damage. Other herbs like lemon balm and mint can be invasive and spread quickly, so it's best to plant them in containers for manageable maintenance and care.
Step 2:
Determine which herbs will grow from seeds and which to transplant from root balls or cuttings to plan your garden's growth cycle. Parsley, cilantro and chives are some of the easiest herbs to grow from seed; select slow-bolt varieties specifically for cilantro and chives to extend harvest time. Other herbs like sage, lavender and rosemary are better suited to being planted from cuttings or transplants, as they take longer to reach full maturity. Planting a mix of seedlings and herbs that are a few weeks old helps lengthen the growing season, keeping a steady growth and providing consistent harvest.
Step 3: 
Once preparation is complete, it's time to plant. It's best to place taller herbs like basil and lavender in the back of your bed to create an appealing backdrop for other low-growing flowers and herbs; plant shorter herbs in front, descending in height. Herbs like oregano that are short and trailing should be planted around the border so they can spill over the edges freely. If you're transplanting herbs from a pot or container, make sure you dig a hole that's deep enough so that it's flush with the top of the root ball, and then pat them in with surrounding soil. Keep in mind to plant herbs in succession - with roughly 7 to 14 days between plantings - for a longer harvest.
Step 4:
Ongoing maintenance. Though all herbs require some maintenance to help sustain their overall health and growth, different herbs have various needs. Drought-resistant herbs like oregano, thyme and rosemary require little water, whereas basil needs watering consistently. Some herbs like mint and lemon balm spread quickly, so it's best to prune regularly to maintain their growth and restrain crowding in your garden.
Step 5:
Harvest herbs. Just like ongoing maintenance, herbs' harvesting needs differ across the board. Chives, for example, don't last long and need to be picked while they are fresh. Leafy herbs should be pruned with a bypass pruner just above the nodes to encourage growth. When it comes to timing, it's best to harvest herbs in the morning hours to protect their oils, which provide their flavor and scent.


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