Herbs create an ideal garden because they require little care and are not very particular about soil condition. The best herb garden is one that uses a limited amount of space and is located right outside the kitchen door. Herbs can also be grown in pots on the patio. An herb garden is the simplest garden of all.
Herbs only need three simple things. They need well drained soil, which can be achieved by adding peat moss and sand with a layer of gravel. Herbs need at least six hours of sunlight per day, so keep the garden out of the shade. Herbs need water but like to dry out a little bit between rain or additional watering. If they wilt, simply water them.
Most backyard herb gardens contain herbs that will be used in the kitchen. Plant only herbs that you will use. Parsley, thyme, basil, chives and sage are easy to start with. Locate the garden in an area where it can be expanded in years to come. Keep it simple at first. Add a few other herbs the second year.
Turn the soil over and add compost and peat moss to make the soil easy to plant. Use plants purchased at the local garden center. Many herbs need special requirements and some do not grow from seed at all. When planting an herb garden in containers, use plastic pots as they do not dry out as fast as clay pots. Plant Italian flat leaf parsley for flavor; use curly parsley as garnish. Chives grow very large and should be given about a foot of room around each plant, or plant one to a pot. Sage and basil should have about 8 to 10 inches of free area for growth. Thyme is also a good edging plant because it grows low. Thyme can be planted at the edge of a pot so it can grow down the side.
Most herbs can stand to dry out before being watered. If they wilt water them right away. Herbs usually do not need to be fertilized, because they grow like weeds anyway. The only herb that should be allowed to flower is chives. Always pinch back flower spikes and blooms on all others. This will encourage more energy to go to the leaves, which are the part of the plant used.
Harvest and Storage
In a simple, small herb garden harvest herbs as they are needed. Just snip or pinch them off with your fingers. The first year, half of each plant can be cut back in July. The cuttings should be tied in bunches with string or rubber bands and hung in a dry area away from direct sunlight to dry. Store dried herbs in lidded glass jars or air-tight plastic containers and keep them away from sunlight and heat. There can be enough harvest from a simple herb garden to last until next growing season.