Erica is a writer, editor, wife, and mom. She has always found employment with an English degree and she excels at nurturing children and animals but struggles to keep houseplants alive. Erica currently writes at

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How To: Grow An Herb Garden

Mary, Mary quite contrary; How does your [herb] garden grow?

With crab grass hell and acorn shells and kids toys all in a row.

Admittedly, I don’t have a garden this year.  Our 4-part yard plan is currently on part 2: kill all of the grass and start over.  But I’ve had a garden at other homes and will (WILL!) have one again next summer.

Our yard in Connecticut was only 0.12 acres, so my garden was, like, 0.012 acres. Space was precious.

Before beginning your garden, it’s important to ask yourself how you want to use it and what you’re actually ready to handle.  If you’re going to have a baby in the middle of the summer, you likely won’t be up to tending a large garden and then cooking/canning the produce.  Perhaps an herb garden or a food-specific, smaller plot would be more manageable, in that case.

Typically, I like to grow basil, rosemary, thyme, mint and lavender.  Depending on your palette and usage, you could also grow a myriad of other things like dill, oregano, chamomile, lemon verbena, tarragon, etc.

Planting Herbs In the Ground

1. Choose a small plot of ground as close to your kitchen door (or backyard door) as possible.  Accessibility is key.  Basil is supposed to be a mosquito deterrent, so that’s an added positive to planting near a door.  The plot should be in full sun, but if you live in a desert climate, afternoon shade is ok.

2. Remove grass — I prefer to dig it up rather than spray poison in an area where I’ll grow edibles.

3. Till or hoe the dirt, adding compost to create a rich home for your plants.  I don’t get very technical about soil (I live in the midwest, although I do have some clay to contend with in Kentucky), but if you have heavy clay or sand soil, you may need to bone up with more soil advice.

4. For ease of use, let’s assume we’re all buying plants at the garden center.  When you take each plant out of the container, loosen up the dirt around the roots before placing in the hole in the ground.  Pat the dirt firmly around the plant.

* Note: If you plant mint, use a pot or separate space from other plants.  Mint will spread and choke out other flora.

5. Keep plants watered.  July-September may require twice daily watering.

6. Use the plants!  Pinch off pieces regularly or your plant will get leggy.  If basil sprouts flowers, it enters shut-down mode and won’t last the entire season.

More herb-alicious info:

Medicinal uses for herbs

Planting requirements for specific herbs

Planting a Salsa Garden. ¡Ole!

Planting a Pizza Garden

Cooking With & Storing Herbs

Planting an indoor herb garden:


Now I’m inspired to at least plant a few potted herbs while our yard regenerates.  I’d much rather avoid over-priced herbs in little plastic grocery boxes and instead stick my arm outside to nip some leaves from my deck.  What’s better than a hot summer night and a mojito!

What’s your favorite herb and use for it?  Keep it clean, folks.

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Comments (4)

  1. Pingback: TodaysMama | Blog | Earth Day: Sustainable Living Every Day

  2. Jen Price 04/13/2011 at 3:48 pm

    I still remember the rather large rosemary plant you had at one point in CT. We have a very small area for our little herb garden which consists of basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and mint. I love the convenience of fresh herbs!

  3. Carina Wytiaz 04/13/2011 at 10:00 am

    I steal basil and parsley from my parent’s garden every year to make pesto. I really need to grow up and plant my own herbs!

  4. Amy Allen Johnson 04/13/2011 at 9:50 am

    I planted new basil, cilantro, dill and rosemary from seeds, sprouting on my kitchen counter until the snow really decides to make an exit here. Thanks for the inspiration!