Herb gardens are an excellent and fun way to provide yourself with fresh herbs of your choosing, so don’t be scared to try out your green thumb! Have you thought about having your own herb garden, but have no idea where to start? Here are a few of the most common mistakes herb garden beginners make (and tips on how to avoid them):
1. Growing from seeds
For a beginner, it is often easier to buy seedlings and skip the complications seeds can bring. Starter plants are widely available and can be found at gardening or grocery stores.
2. Choosing unhealthy plants
Although skipping the seeds makes starting an herb garden easier, there is still some trickiness when it comes to choosing a healthy plant. Bright colors, plenty of foliage, and no bugs (or eggs) are signs of prime plants.
3. Planting incorrectly
Overplanting and crowding your herbs is a common mistake that leads to a less than healthy herb garden. If your herbs don’t have the space they need to spread their roots and fully grow, they are less likely to survive long-term. Be sure to carefully read the tags to find out the height and width of the fully grown plants before planting.
4. Planting in the wrong environment
As with all plants, the wrong environment is a quick way to kill the success of your garden. There are ways to get around this if you don’t have the ideal climate – planting herbs in pots can make it easy to adapt to moving sun and shade as needed.
5. Watering incorrectly
Generally, and especially during summer months, herbs require a moderate watering every day. If you are planting in pots, be sure there is a sufficient drainage system to avoid drowning your plants. If you have an outdoor garden, watering the soil in the morning will help prevent evaporation. Avoid watering the leaves, as this can cause mildew and disease.
6. Not cutting enough (pruning)
Pruning your herb plants regularly promotes fast and even growth. Pruning (harvesting the leaves and stems) will keep the herb at its growth stage for as long as possible. Without pruning, you allow the plant to start and finish its life cycle, and will be left with little or no regrowth.
Another thing to keep in mind when pruning is to harvest from the top. Many beginners think taking the larger leaves from the bottom is the way to go, but these bottom leaves are necessary for the growth of your herb. The tender, new leaves at the top are also especially tasty!
7. Using soil without nutrients
Plants need nutrients to grow, especially when they are often being harvested and need the extra energy boost to keep going. A light fertilizer and/or organic compost will do wonders for your soil and your herbs.
8. Allowing your herb to flower and turn to seeds
Unless you are growing an herb that is known for its edible flowers, be sure to cut back your plant before they start growing flowers. Flowers are a sign that the herb’s life cycle is about to end (flowers turn to seeds, to restart the growth elsewhere). If you see a flower budding, pinch off the bud, or cut back the stem entirely to promote further production of leaves.