From the hundreds of herb varieties, which ones are suitable for one’s garden? How big should an herb garden be and where should it be located in the backyard? When people start growing herbs at home, these are the common questions they encounter.
What herbs to plant. The logical first step here is to see what’s available in one’s locality. Just go to the nearest supermarket and see what’s available for sale. The popular choice these days are herbs used in cooking and also those used as ornaments. Some cookbooks offer suggestions on what herbs should be used for certain recipes, and the common herbs listed should help us get a good idea on what varieties to have to start growing herbs in a home garden.
As far as herb flavoring is concerned we may categorize herbs as: Herbs for blending, for accent, and for strong flavoring. Common herbs for blending are parsley, chives, and summer savory. Those for accent are sweet marjoram, thyme, tarragon, sweet basil, mint, or dill. Common strong herbs are sage, rosemary, and winter savory. These varieties are good for beginners to start growing herbs in their backyard. As one becomes more familiar with herbs, other not-so-common varieties may be tried: lovage, fennel, chervil, or coriander, to name a few. Some herbs blossom only annually, some twice a year, others several times a year before they die.
So how big should home herb gardens be? To start growing herbs, logically, it will first depend on the available space in one’s backyard. Some gardens are wooden shelves or stair-like open cabinets where small pots are neatly and symmetrically arranged. Then, it will also depend on the number of varieties desired. Most people start growing herbs in their kitchen or somewhere near it. If this is the case, an 80 square feet area should do. Like a 20 feet by 4 feet area. If a variety of herbs is contemplated, each variety should have about 12 inches by 18 inches of space. Different colored herbs gives very attractive design to the herb garden, like green parsley and purple basil.
Finally, to start growing herbs, soil fertility and drainage should be checked. Drainage is important. Make sure the soil is not generally wet. The garden bed should be founded on a 3-inch layer of pebbles , plus some sphagnum peat, compost, and sand, before covering everything with top soil. The herb bed should be higher than the original ground level. This makes for a good drainage.