An herb garden is a must-have in your backyard vegetable garden. When you are cooking you can just go out and snip off what you need at the moment for your recipe. Grow herbs for making your own tea. You herb garden can also add a special beauty to the landscape with its different colored foliage and beautiful flowers.
The garden can be a raised bed close to the kitchen, or it can be a collection of pots and containers. Or it can be both. In the bed, arrange the plants so that the tall ones do not shade the smaller ones. With an eye to color, intermingle the grays of sage and rosemary with the greener leaves darker leaves of other plants.
Container herbs can be put anywhere you have room, singly or in groups. The larger herbs, such as cilantro and dill, could be planted in beds while the smaller ones, such as chives, parsley, marjoram, and thyme could thrive in pots.
Try different combinations of herbs in pots and other containers. Plant creeping thyme with purple-leaved basil for a pleasing color and texture combination. Or plant curly-leaved parsley with silver-leafed sage. Large perennial herbs such as lavender and rosemary can be planted in separate large pots and brought indoors for the winter.
Another consideration when deciding where to plant herbs is whether they are perennial, biennial, or annual. Perennial herbs come back each year and will have a long life if properly cared for. Perennials, such as oregano, chives, peppermint, thyme, tarragon and lavender are hardy and will come back year after year, depending on your planting zone. (see map at the bottom of this page).. An herb that is perennial in the South may be an annual in the North.
Biennial herbs live for two years and will flower and bear seed in the second year after sowing, then die. Sage and rosemary are biennial in some zones.
Mulch bed-planted perennial and biennial herbs with about 4 inches of shredded leaves or grass clippings in the fall. Wait until spring to prune back the dead tops. For the pot-planted perennials and biennials, leave them outdoors until after the first hard freeze. Trim back the plants and move them to a cool, unheated building until spring.
Annual herbs are sown in the spring and will die in the fall. Basil, cilantro, and dill, fit this category.
Although many herbs are cold-hearty, most will do best in started indoors then set outside after the danger of frost is past. Thirty days before the average date of the last frost in your area prepare your little planting containers.
If your backyard garden is small, don't go overboard. One or 2 plants of each kind is probably enough. The exception for me is parsley. I like to plant a little butterfly garden for the parsley worm larvae which turns into the swallow-tailed butterfly.
If you plan to start the plants outdoors, check the seed package to see how many days it takes for the seed to germinate.
Of course, the easy way is to go to the nursery and buy one or two of each herb already started.
Please consider planting enough parsley, fennel, and dill in your herb garden to share with the parsleyworm caterpillar which turns into the beautiful black swallowtail butterfly.