How to Grow & Use Herbs Successfully

Overview

Herbs are a good alternative to salt or sugar for adding flavor to your cooking. Culinary herbs add antioxidants to food without raising sodium or cholesterol levels. Because herbs are so popular in cooking, they have been sold both fresh and dry from your local supermarket as well as farmer's markets and roadside stands. Herbs prefer full sun and well-drained soil, but will grow well in containers as well as lower lighting conditions.

Step 1

Select transplants of nursery-grown herbs, or choose herb seeds to start your own herbs at home.

Step 2

Choose potting soil for container herbs and containers that are large enough to accommodate the herb's root ball as it grows. Place a pottery shard over the drainage hole and fill the container with the potting soil, leaving an inch of space near the top to water the container.

Step 3

For herbs grown in a garden, break up the soil with a rototiller to a depth of 12 inches. Spread a 4-inch layer of peat moss and compost on the surface of the soil and mix it into the soil with a rototiller.

Step 4

Open a planting pocket for herbs that is the same depth as the root ball and twice as wide. Place the root ball of transplanted herbs into the drill hole and cover with soil. Create drill holes for plants that are twice as deep as the seed's width at the widest point. Place the seed into the drill hole and cover with soil. Water the plants to encourage germination.

Step 5

Check the soil daily and water anytime the soil is dry. The soil should stay as damp as a wrung-out sponge.

Step 6

Harvest herbs when they reach maturity. Pick herb stems in the morning once the dew has evaporated from the herbs. This is the point when the essential oils in the plant are at their highest.

Step 7

Tie the lower stems of the plant together and hang the plant upside down in a dark, well-ventilated location.

Step 8

Grind the herbs in a mortar and pestle to reduce them to fine powder. Sprinkle this herb powder in recipes.

Things You'll Need

  • Nursery grown herb transplants
  • Herb seed
  • Potting soil
  • Containers
  • Rototiller
  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Shovel
  • Garden hose
  • Mortar and pestle

References

  • Ohio State Univeristy: Selecting, Storing, and Using Fresh Herbs
  • Minnesota State Univeristy Extension: Herbs
  • Iowa State University Extension: Vegetables and Herbs Information

Who Can Help

  • University of Idaho Extension: Fruit, Vegetable & Herbs: Tree Fruits
Keywords: growing herbs, Kitchen garden, raising culinary plants

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."