My little herb garden

What a warm, gorgeous day in May this is!  One of the things I love about coming home in Spring is seeing my little herb garden, which I just planted last weekend.  Previously, I raised my herbs from seeds, but this is done indoors and requires a lot of care and attention during the last cold weeks of spring.  An easier solution is purchasing small plants and beautifully arranging them in a large planter.  Herbs tend to coexist quite peacefully together. 

You can use most any of your favorite fresh herbs, my staples are sweet basil, parsley and cilantro (for my husband). This year I added chives and we may add a few more as the season progresses. Basil plants become rather large, and because they can go to seed early in the season, you can plant those seeds to have fresh plants coming up all the time.  Rosemary is something we use so commonly that we have a large, separate plant. Other fun herbs include sage, dill and thyme.  Here is a closeup:

These herbs are quite small, but will grow large throughout the season and we always have more than we can ever use.  And how sweet is it (and inexpensive) to simply step outside your kitchen onto the patio and harvest just the amount you need for dinner?  Planting an herb garden is an easy way to get excited about healthful cooking. 

Here are a few herb gardening pearls:

1.) Wait until after the last frost to plant outside. Small plants like this are delicate and easily frost-damaged. The rule for tomatoes is May 15th or Mother’s Day.  But I try to start my herbs earlier than this, weather permitting.

2.) Beware of mint – this is invasive and can take over your herb garden. I let this grow behind our barn, where it can spread out and do what it likes.  On the upside, it has come back for me every year without need for reseeding or planting.

3.) Most herbs like sun with part shade. My herbs get approximately 6 hours of sunlight daily.  

4.) Be sure you have moist, fertile soil.  We have ideal conditions for herbs in  Bucks County. Once established, I find I don’t have to water these much until the hottest part of summer. 

5.) Experiment and don’t be afraid to make mistakes!  I have made every gardening mistake in the book.  We learn from our mistakes and just get better!!

Stay tuned,  in an upcoming post I will share soon some healthful and delicious creations from fresh backyard herbs.  Enjoy the beautiful evening…

-Laura Fitzpatrick, M.D.

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