Herbs may be classified as perennial, annual or biennial. Perennial herbs will remain year after year, while annual herbs will last only for a season. Biennial herbs take more than one year to reach maturity. Since the early days of statehood, Hoosiers in the northern part of the state have been growing a variety of herbs for seasoning and medicinal use. Homesteaders north of the Indianapolis area will find herb gardening a rewarding activity in modern times as well.
Choose varieties of herbs that will grow well in northern Indiana. Select perennials such as chive, garlic, peppermint, spearmint, sage, tarragon and fennel. Pick annuals such as dill, anise, basil, coriander, summer savory and cumin or biennials such as parsley and caraway.
Start perennial herb seeds in a seed starter kit filled with sand six to eight weeks before the last frost, which will be early to mid-March. Place a seed into the center of the tray and spritz with water from a spray bottle. Place the top of the seed starter kit on tightly and place the tray in a sunny windowsill.
Prepare a flower garden near your kitchen for planting herbs. Make sure there is at least six hours of sunlight each day with at least some afternoon shade. Till the soil inside the bed to a depth of about 10 inches with a garden tiller.
Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of manure to the flowerbed in early to mid-April using a manure spreader. Till the soil again to evenly mix the manure and dirt to a depth of at least 6 inches. Allow the garden spot to cure for at least two weeks before planting herbs.
Plant annual and biennial herb seeds directly into the soil after danger of frost has passed, which is usually early May in northern Indiana. Dig a hole 1 inch deep with a garden trowel and then place the seed in the center of the hole and cover with dirt. Plant seeds 6 to 8 inches apart and a foot apart in rows.
Take perennial seedlings from the seed starter kit in the sunny window. Dig a hole in the flowerbed 2 to 3 inches deep and 1 inch wide with a garden trowel. Place the seedlings inside the hole so that the roots are fully submerged and the top of the plant is sticking above the ground and fill the hole with dirt.
Add a layer of mulch such as cedar bark 4 to 6 inches thick around the newly planted herbs. Water the plants heavily using a garden hose with spray attachment. Water the herbs at least two to three times a week during the summer months and at least once a week during the fall.
Pull weeds and dying plants by hand from the flower garden in the fall and discard. Mulch the herbs again with a thick layer of cedar bark. Water just before the first frost around early October, then cease watering activity until the spring.