Herb Gardens for Beginners - Here's an Idea

I'm going to say something controversial here in a minute. I think growing herbs is one of the absolute best beginning gardening projects -- that's not the controversial part. I think it's so compelling, fun and addictive that it'll pull you back to it year after year. If you can't invest the time and money to work your flowerbeds, can't afford to invest in those cunning looking raised bed contraptions and can't buy window boxes or matched pots for your deck -- don't.

Just Do It -- Plant an Herb

Dig a little hole in your wretched soil and fill it with potting mix or top-soil mixed with sand. Dig one hole and stick an herb in it that you'd ordinarily buy from the grocery store. It could be dill for your salmon, basil for your pasta sauce, lavender for tea, parsley for garnish or mint for your lamb. The herb doesn't matter, but its usefulness to you does.

Choose a spot that's sunny and close enough to your garden hose that giving it a drink now and then won't be an imposition. If you don't have a little section of earth at your disposal, plant your herb in a plastic tub or a piece of old crockery (with a drainage hole in the bottom). Just get your first herb going somehow, even if your approach will never make the cover of gardener's weekly.

This year, your first year, won't be spectacular. You'll start getting the itch, though. That useful herb will shoot out of your makeshift home for it, and pretty soon you'll be looking around for a pair of shears to harvest a few leaves, then more. By fall you'll be thinking about ways to save seed for next year. You may also start thinking about adding a couple of other herbs and maybe a vegetable plant or two to your project -- next year.

Just Get Started (Today's a good day to get your hands dirty.)

It's a start -- a great start -- and a path to gardening many of us have taken whether we want to admit it or not. Herb and vegetable gardening is beguiling. There's something enormously powerful about being able to use (as in eat) what you grow. It's so much more powerful than putting a boxwood hedge in your landscape because it'll screen the gas meter from view.

Gardening for edible and useful plants is almost like finding something you actually want on sale. It's a windfall, serendipity and payback from the cosmos for your farsightedness. You may not believe me, but try it anyway. You'll be so surprised. Come back in the fall and tell me how it went. We'll talk then about planning your "real" herb garden.

Oh, if you want a more traditional approach to starting your first herb garden, these simple tutorials will help:

Your First Herb Garden
Starting an Herb Garden
How to Start an Herb Garden - More Tips


  1. One step at a time. I hope your post inspires some readers who've put off herb gardening because it seemed overwhelming to buy an oregano plant or a rosemary or some basil seeds.

  2. I hope so too, NellJean. It's just too fun to put off.



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