Herb Gardening for Beginners

Before you start to build your first herb garden, let’s analyze the general conditions that determine how individual herbs grow. Each herb’s life cycle, climate requirements, growth pattern, and means of propagation dictate what you can and can’t do for it in the garden.


| October 20, 2011


Reprinted with permission from Herb Gardening from the Ground Up: Everything You Need to Know About Growing Your Favorite Herbs. Copyright © 2012 by Sal Gilbertie and Larry Sheehan. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. The following excerpt can be found on Pages 27 to 32. 

Before we consider the first herb garden, let’s analyze the general conditions that determine how individual herbs grow for those herb garden beginners. Each herb’s life cycle, climate requirements, growth pattern, and means of propagation dictate what you can and can’t do for it in the garden. Becoming familiar with these key factors is really more important, at this point, than knowing which names belong to which herbs.

Life Cycle

Herbs live according to one of three distinctly different timetables: annual, perennial, or biennial.

An annual is any plant that can be sown from seed and will mature to harvest stage within one growing season. Left outside into winter, both plant and root structure will be killed by freezing temperatures or even a light frost.

Many of our most familiar culinary herbs are annuals—basil, chervil, coriander, dill, summer savory.

A perennial is a plant that comes back every spring. The plant itself may be killed by frost, but the root structure is hardy and, after hibernating for the winter, it sends up new shoots at the start of spring. Mints, sweet marjoram, tarragon, sage, and oregano are all hardy perennials.





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