Herbs are very popular for the home garden. Since most of them have Mediterranean origins they need lean, well-drained soil instead of the super-fertile soil in our raised beds. An herb’s job is to produce leaves, which is a lot easier than generating fruits like tomatoes, squash or peppers. Also, many herbs grow over more than a single season. Our beds are designed for production vegetables, which are planted and grown over a single season only to be removed and replaced by the next season’s crops. I advocate growing your herbs in pots or separate planters. Use a leaner soil mix – 50% compost and 50% sand is an option as well as 50% potting mix and 50% sand. Don’t add any fertilizers or potting mix that has fertilizers included.
Avoid clay pots. They dry out very quickly. You may end up having to water twice a day and your plants will go from very dry to very wet in a short time. Instead go with plastic pots – many look just like clay, and they’re lighter and inexpensive.
Use water crystals. They absorb water and release it slowly as needed. They’re available at garden centers under different names like Terra-Sorb and Soil Moist. Add the crystals to your soil as indicated on the package.
Instead of buying a whole packet of seeds to grow just a few plants, I suggest you head out to the garden center in the spring and look through the variety of herbs to choose from as transplants. Rub a leaf or two and get a sense of how each smells and tastes. Get three types of basil and give them all a try. Remember that most herbs are happiest when they’re used on a regular basis, so pinch often and don’t let them get away from you.