The first part of this list of herbs are extremely easy to grow, harvest, and maintain. Garlic and lavender are a bit harder, but well worth it. Most of these you can even bring inside in the winter months and continue to harvest from them if you choose to grow them in large pots near a sunny space. Garlic never needs to be brought inside. You can see how we plant garlic here.
We love container gardening, so we grow most of our herbs in large pots each year. Some naturally die off and grow back (perennials such as peppermint and lemon balm), while others need to be brought inside and tended to through out the year. Or, the other option is to harvest their seeds in the Summer and replant indoors in the Winter for Spring plants. You can also grow herbs in garden beds, but be sure to do your research, because some herbs—like the mint family—enjoy spreading like wildfire.
Before You Begin
Whether you’re growing your herbs in containers or in the ground, there are a few things to consider before you get started.
Make sure your soil is healthy and fertilized.
Because nothing grows well in hard dirt that doesn’t have good fertilization. Add some rabbit manure (if you raise rabbits, like us), or buy an organic fertilizer from your local farm store.
Don’t place your herbs in an area that is in direct sunlight all day long.
Some herbs do well (like rosemary and stalky herbs), but most delicate ones do not. In the hot summer months, herbs such as thyme and cilantro (herbs with more delicate leaves) can scorch because they get too hot in direct sunlight all day. Sunlight for half the day is perfect. Indirect sunlight, or partial shade, for the remainder of the day is ideal. Though, there are some that thrive in direct sunlight all day long (denser, oily, or stick like leaves such as lavender and rosemary). Be sure to read the information that comes with the seed package or plant package very carefully before deciding where to permanently place your plants.
Ensure that you have enough space for your plants to grow. For example, don’t grow lemon balm in a garden bed that you need to keep tidy. Herbs like lemon balm and peppermint are expansive, meaning, they grow and spread like wildfire each year when they go to seed. They are “covering” plants, meaning, they cover the ground very well and very quickly. This is a great thing, however, because these types of plants you simply plant once, and then forget about them once they establish a presence in your flower bed. They will be there for years to come!
Research your herbs before ingesting them.
Whether you’re growing herbs to use for culinary purposes, or for medicinal purposes, be sure to do your research first, to make sure they are herbs that you should be using.
Harvesting Your Herbs
Drying Your Herbs
Storing Your Harvest
As long as your herbs are kept in a dark and dry place, in an air tight container, your dried herbs will last up to 18 months or longer, depending on the herb and the environment. As dried herbs age, they do lose their medicinal value. So using up that harvest in the first year is very beneficial to you and your family if you are growing herbs specifically for your medicinal cabinet. Culinary herbs can last an upward of three years when stored properly. Obviously, the quicker they are used, the better they taste, but it’s nice to know you have that option!
You can use fresh or dried herbs to create things like tinctures, salves, lotions, infused oils, and more. But that’s another topic for another day!