The beginning gardener will find herbs to be a great choice for their first experiments in growing things. For us with "brown thumbs" herbs are very forgiving plants. They can do well in poor soil, and generally require little care, and little or no fertilizer. Many herbs are small, insect resistant, and don't require constant pruning.
Once you've decided on the herbs you want to grow and tend, make sure you have the necessary tools to do it.
Tools for herbal gardening are really pretty simple. Almost any small shovel or spade will be adequate for most planting. Herbs don't need a large hole when they planted from cuttings, and herbal seeds are generally sown very near the surface. A spike or fork of some sort will probably be helpful for aerating compacted soil, especially for newly planted seeds.
Herbs also like good drainage.
Though they require it only rarely, if you want to care properly for your herbs,
occasional pruning might be necessary. That means you'll need a pair of pruning shears. Ordinary scissors have their uses in the garden for tasks such as cutting twine, snipping small stems, and so forth. Even so, a pair of sharp pruning shears is essential for trimming thicker stems and a few other tasks.
Depending on your arrangements a good watering can
may be helpful. Some cans just pour water out a one inch opening. That can be great for many
other types of plants, but herbs
require less water and one of the most common mistakes is
overwatering. The type of watering can with a series of small holes
will make it easier to control the amount given.
Watering cans are great for container-grown herbs
and small areas. However, you'll want some kind of watering system for larger herbal gardens. Unless you
have lots of time on your hands, some sort of automatic watering system
will be best. Fortunately, a simple drip or soaker hose system is easy to set up and inexpensive. Some may require replacement every couple of years depending on your climate.
Unless you pull them up before winter and re-lay the following spring,
winter can be hard on those hoses. If you live in the north, a couple
of years of snow and low temperatures will rot and plug them. But even a 20 ft x 30 ft garden
can be easily and completely covered with soaker hose in less than an
hour. All that's required is to make a pattern close to the plants and shove down
a few plastic or metal spikes to keep it in place.
If you have to move any of this stuff any distance, you might want to
have wheelbarrow handy
for transporting those container-started plants
to the garden for transplanting. You may also find it handy for carting
away weeds that have gotten out of hand. It's much easier to toss them
into the wheelbarrow, then roll them away for bagging or dispersal,
than to pick them off the ground when you're done. That also helps minimize
Laying down a 3-4 inch layer of mulch after
you plant can help minimize the need for weeding later. It also helps with soil composition. Mulch
can be made from wood chips, bark, gravel or even shredded newspapers -
or all of them combined. Just leave about an inch in diameter of space
around the base of the plant when you mulch. That will avoid any excess
buildup of moisture and heat.
Some simple quality tools, a few packets of fine seeds, a bit of space
with good earth and you are on your way to having a great herb garden.
Indoor Herbs Vs. Outdoor Herbs
Planning Your Herb Garden
Growing Herbs from Seeds
History and Myths About Herbs
Preparing Your Herbs for Spring
Preparing Your Herbs for Winter
Soil and Pests
Herb Butter Recipes
Preserving Herbs Through Drying
Common Herbs: Basil, Dill, Lavender
Common Herbs: Chives, Peppermint, Parsley
Common Herbs: Sage, Rosemary, Thyme
Herbs Medieval and Modern
Vaughan's Vegetable Cookbook
More Hobby Web Pages