Herbs can be a fun and enjoyable food to grow. Edible herbs require little room compared to other food and can be harvested as needed. While starting edible herbs can take time, once started, the seeds can be used to recreate the results each year for annuals or the plants can be allowed to simply return each year if they are perennials.
Locate an area of your property that gets six hours or more of direct sunlight daily. This can be inground using a garden plot or above-ground using planters. If you live in a location where sunlight moves from one space to another, such as lightly shaded or urban areas, planters are the best option as you can move them to chase the sun.
Prepare the growing area. Use the claw rake to break up the soil if you are planting in a garden plot; fill the planters with loose potting soil. Make sure that the soil is loose enough where you can break it up with your hands. Break up the ground to a depth of three inches; fill the planters to within an inch of the lip. This will provide enough room to plant seeds or plants while also allowing for watering and soil compaction.
Water the soil to check for drainage. This step will determine if you have good drainage or need to make adjustments before planting; herbs drown easily if overwatered or left in standing water. Use raised beds for inground locations with poor drainage; use a 1-inch gravel base and create small openings in the bottom of planters for better drainage.
Fertilize the soil. Use compost or organic potting soil specifically formulated for herbs. Spread the compost across the area for inground gardens; then work the compost into the soil until it is well mixed. For planters, place the potting soil into the planter and mix well to ensure nutrients are spread thoroughly throughout the soil.
Plant the edible herbs. Dig a hole into the soil 2inches deep for seeds or the required depth for seedlings according to the growing instructions provided. Place the seeds or plants into the holes. Cover the hole with soil. Annuals and biennials are easier to plant as seeds, while perennials are better set as transplanted seedlings according to information published in the "Sunset Western Garden Book."
Water the plants. Water the herbs immediately after planting until the soil is moist but not wet. Water the herbs weekly until they become established. After your edible herbs are growing, follow the recommended watering schedule for each herb; lavender requires light watering while mint needs to remain in moist soil.
Apply compost to the herb beds at the start of the second growing season in the spring. Place the compost around the base of the herb, keeping the crown exposed to ensure the plant can breathe. This will provide more nutrients, protection from pests and weather, and lengthen the growing season.
Harvest sprigs in the morning once buds begin to bloom. This is when the edible herbs are freshest. Gathering the herbs in the morning allows the plants the most time to recover from harvesting. Tie the cuttings together with string. Hang the group from a nail or hook. Keep the cuttings out of direct sunlight to avoid them from drying out too quickly.