How to Start an Organic Herb Garden

Overview

Gardens overflowing with fragrant herbs provide the ingredients for both medicinal and culinary recipes. These easy-to-grow plants thrive in full sun and average soil. Bees and butterflies gravitate to herb gardens, creating movement and adding natural beauty. Add a miniature hummingbird feeder and an herb garden transforms to a haven for these tiny birds. Growing herbs organically eliminates concerns with consuming chemicals or polluting the environment and protects animals and helpful insects, as well.

Step 1

Select an area that receives full sun for 6 to 8 hours a day. Most herbs thrive in full sun.

Step 2

Till the area to a depth of 8 to 10 inches and remove rock, roots and other debris.

Step 3

Layer a 2 to 3-inch layer of well-rotted manure or compost over the soil. Work in well with a garden tiller or hand tools.

Step 4

Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball of the herb seedling. Position the seedling in the hole and spread the roots over the soil. Fill in around the roots with soil and firm down to secure the plant. Space individual plants to the recommended spacing.

Step 5

Water thoroughly and keep soil moist until seedlings show signs of new growth. Decrease water. Herbs typically require little supplemental watering. Water deeply once a week and allow soil to dry between waterings.

Step 6

Apply organic fertilizer only when needed. Fish emulsion or manure tea provides the nutrients plants need to grow without the risks associated with chemical formulas. Herbs typically do not require supplemental fertilizer as the oils responsible for both fragrance and flavor may be inhibited in rich soil.

Step 7

Control pests by handpicking or by spraying the plants with a forceful spray of water to dislodge insects. Insect pests are rare as many herbs are a natural insect repellent.

Step 8

Pinch out center leaves with your thumb and forefinger when seedlings are 4 to 6 inches high to force the plant to develop dense foliage. Repeat in three weeks.

Step 9

Harvest leaves once herbs are 4 to 6 inches tall for immediate use. Pick herbs for drying before blooms appear. Blooming reduces the intensity of oils in herbs.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tiller
  • Garden tools (hoe/rake)
  • Organic soil amendments (compost/well-rotted manure)
  • Herb seedlings

References

  • Organic Herb Gardening: The Secrets to Growing
  • Purdue University Extension: Growing Herbs

Who Can Help

  • West Virginia University Extension: Growing Herbs in the Home Garden
Keywords: organic herb garden, grow herbs organically, grow organic herbs

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.