Grow Your Own Herbs

Add low-impact herbs for an easy garden and a healthy harvest.

| May/June 2004

  • David Cavagnaro
  • Sage and basil intermingle with colorful ornamental peppers.
    David Cavagnaro
  • Feverfew blooms from early summer to fall.
    Karen Shelton,
  • Basil, lavender, thyme and rosemary decorate a kitchen garden.
    Rick Wetherbee

As a longtime gardener, I’ve been challenged by finicky roses and delphiniums, blighted tomatoes and peppers, and strawberries that produce lush growth but no berries. My herb gardens, however, remain consistently problem-free.

Gardener-friendly herbs are easy to grow and naturally resistant to pests and diseases. Herbs such as lavender, thyme and rosemary add wonderful fragrances to the garden. And many herbs are decorative as well as useful, with attractive shapes, textures and flowers.

One of the greatest rewards of an herb garden is being able to use plants you’ve grown to add zest to your cooking, make medicines or brew up a pot of tea. With only a few hours of work, you can plant a garden now that will provide you with herbs ready for picking this summer.

Location, Location, Location

Choosing an appropriate site for your herb garden is the first step in making your garden a reality. Most herbs grow best in full sun — that means four to six hours a day of direct sunlight during the growing season (from spring through early fall). However, if you live where the sun is intensely hot in the summer — such as in the desert Southwest or in the South — likely you’ll find your herbs grateful for partial shade in the afternoon.

In cooler climates, many herbs will tolerate partial shade, but they may not be as vigorous or flavorful as those grown in full sun. (Some herbs, including sweet woodruff, cilantro and angelica, prefer partial shade no matter the climate.)

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