How to Grow & Harvest Herbs & Spices


Herbs and spices don't come just from the baking and produce aisles of the grocery store. For a modest initial investment, you can grow and harvest them at home. You'll enjoy the benefits of just-picked flavor during the warm months and the satisfaction of self-sufficiency when you use the herbs that you harvested and preserved yourself during the winter.

Step 1

Plant your herbs from seed if you have a sunny window where you can place them. They need to be planted at least two months before they will be ready to be transplanted outdoors. You might want to wait and buy young plants from the nursery at the beginning of the growing season if you don't have sufficient indoor space to start them.

Step 2

Prepare an area in the garden for planting. Choose a spot that gets at least six hours of sunshine a day. Dig the dirt with a spade. Use the side of the spade to break up the dirt; then smooth it out by hand or with a rake.

Step 3

Remove the plants carefully from their containers. If the roots are growing together, gently pull them apart so they will spread into the soil. Dig a hole just deep enough for the plant; place it in the hole and fill it with dirt. Follow the directions for spacing for each plant. Add an inch or so of organic mulch.

Step 4

Water about an inch a week if you don't get rain. Fertilize about every two weeks. Use a commercial fertilizer or apply well-rotted manure early in the growing season. Add compost if you have it, and keep mulch around the plants so they will hold water better and need less weeding. Remove flower buds except with caraway and coriander.

Step 5

Harvest your herbs and spices by snipping a small amount right before you need it for cooking. In the fall, harvest herbs for winter usage. Pick them in the morning or early afternoon to preserve their flavor. They should not be wet when you harvest them. Wash them and spread them out on a towel to dry. Either freeze them in airtight containers or dry them.

Step 6

Gather the herbs with a string or rubber band to dry them, and hang them in a warm, dark, well-ventilated area. Leave room between the bunches of herbs for air to circulate. Clip a few leaves when you want to use them, or store them in containers after they are dry, which takes a week or so.

Tips and Warnings

  • For maximum flavor, avoid crushing the leaves of your herbs until you're ready to use them.

Things You'll Need

  • Young herb plants from the nursery OR
  • Herb seeds, potting soil and pots
  • Spade
  • Trowel or small hand shovel
  • Organic mulch
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Towels
  • Airtight containers OR
  • String or rubber bands


  • Ohio State University Master Gardener Program
  • North Carolina State University Department of Horticulture
Keywords: herb gardens, growing herbs, harvesting herbs

About this Author

Janet Clark has worked as a professional writer for nine years. She has had more than 400 articles published. Her work has appeared in The Iowan, Iowa Gardening, Friends Journal,The Des Moines Register, Today Magazine, Fort Dodge Business Review,The Messenger, and She has also written a novel, Blind Faith. Clark has received several awards from the Iowa Press Women for her work.