When choosing the herbs you want to grow, keep these points in mind:
What will you be using the herbs for?
For kitchen herbs, look through your favorite recipes to see which varieties you use the most. If you will use them in crafting, you will need to consider herbs with pleasing fragrances, flowers or textures. If you plan on selling what you grow, research in your area for the most appropriate mix of plants.
Growing your own herbs is great for making salads, vinegar, cooking oils and butters. Herbal vinegar and oils make wonderful gifts when put in decorative containers.
Where do you plan to grow the herbs?
If you plan to grow the plants in your outside garden, your climate will dictate which herbs you are able to grow. Some plants are native to the Mediterranean and will not do well in the upper Midwest, where as more tender plants may burn up in the hot southern sun.
Consider the total amount of space you are giving each herb to grow. Some herbs, like those in the mint family, are voracious spreaders and will take over not only the section you have provided for them, but other sections as well.
By creating an indoor garden in containers you have more flexibility, but some herbs do not thrive in that type of a year around environment.
Maintaining and Harvesting
Don’t be afraid to clip and use your herbs. In most situations, it will keep your plants healthier and maintain a more tender and tasty product. If you seldom harvest your herbs, you can run into more woody stems with fewer leaves that are overdeveloped with a bland or bitter taste.
The best time to harvest outdoor herbs is in the morning. The best time to harvest them for drying is after a few days with no rain. The plant itself will have less moisture, plus the leaves will be dry and less likely to mold.
There are a few different ways to dry your herbs. Thin leafed herbs dry better in more gentle manners than large-leafed or thick-leafed varieties.
Make small bundles and tie together. Hang in a dark, warm, well-ventilated space. Try to hang away from a high traffic area.
Any type of dehydrator will work, as long as it has a low setting. Dry the leaves on the stem, once dried they will strip off easily. Generally, herbs will dry in 12 to 24 hours.
Place herbs on a cookie sheet and set oven to lowest setting. Stir herbs occasionally until dry.
Gather seeds by using the hang dry method, but hang the bundles inside a paper bag. That way, when the seeds dry and fall, they are captured in the bag.
Indoor Herb Gardening
Enjoy fresh herbs year around by growing your plants indoors. Grown in individual containers or together with other herbs in a larger container, herbs can enhance the sight and smell of your home. Make sure the containers that you choose have adequate drainage, and be sure that the area that you put it in gives enough sunlight. Every plant has a dormant period, usually winter, when it will need less water – but humidity is still important. Room humidity of 40-60% is best. Help your plants by:
- Using a humidifier
- Grouping plants together
- Misting frequently
- Standing plant pots in water filled trays
Many herbs and other plants have edible flowers. Edible flowers are great in salads, herbal vinegar and oils.