A year-round herb garden keeps fresh herbs available and encourages creativity in the kitchen. Seeds and starter plants are readily available and inexpensive at the local home supply store or garden center. Start the plants in containers for convenience during the winter and year-round productivity. Container growing allows the gardener to optimize growing conditions and controls growth within planned boundaries.
Choose seeds or transplants of favorite herbs that you use often. Mint, basil, chives, oregano, rosemary and aloe are commonly used herbs that are good for beginners.
Fill a 12-inch to 18-inch pot with a good potting mix. Use one pot per herb. Sow the seeds or transplant the herbs according to the label directions.
Label the plants with permanent markers or write the herb name on stakes for each plant.
Water the newly planted seeds with a fine mist to avoid washing the seeds away. Keep the soil moist until seeds germinate. Water regularly as needed to prevent the soil from drying out. Each herb has different water needs, with mint preferring moist soil and aloe needing only occasional watering.
Harvest herbs as soon as the plant is growing well. Always leave enough foliage to support the plant. Cut leaves or stems with clean sharp scissors in the morning when the plant is dry but before the sun becomes too hot.
Prune away flower stalks as soon as they appear unless seeds are desired. Once the plant flowers, the flavor of the herb becomes bitter.
Rotate the container as needed to prevent the herbs from becoming lopsided. The plants tend to grow toward the light.
Bring the containers indoor in cold weather and place in a sunny window or supplement light with a grow light. Harden them off gradually when returning them outdoors in spring. Leave them outside for a few hours daily, increasing the time over the course of two weeks until they are outside continuously.
Re-pot herbs every spring or when they begin to outgrow their container.