Growing herbs outside your home provides constant access to fresh herbs for cooking. The Royal Horticultural Society explains that most types of herbs require similar growing conditions, which makes it easy to grow several types of herbs outdoors in the same garden at the same time. With the right environment and care, herbs grow easily outside.
Choose a space in your garden. Plant herbs in an area that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day and has good soil drainage. A location near the kitchen is also convenient for gardeners who plan to use fresh herbs regularly in cooking.
Choose herb starter plants. Mint, dill and chives tolerate some shade better than most other types of herbs, so pick some of these types if any part of the garden does not get full sun. Also take into account that different types of herbs have different lifespans, despite similar growing conditions. Basil, cumin, fennel and dill die each year and need to be replanted again in the spring. Catnip, chives, oregano, mint, lovage, marjoram, lavender, thyme, tarragon, rosemary and sage are perennial herbs, meaning they can survive winters and live for several years. All of these herbs will grow alongside each other, but some gardeners prefer to stick mostly to herbs that do not need yearly replanting.
Prepare the soil for planting. Spring is the best time to plant herbs, ideally after the last frost. Fertilise the soil during the spring a couple days before planting the herb starters. Use a 5-10-10 ratio fertiliser. Apply 680 g to 910 g of organic 5-10-10 fertiliser for every 10 square metres of garden space.
Most herbs grow best in soil with a pH between 6 and 7. Garden centres sell test kits to check the pH of soil. If the soil is too acidic or too basic, buy a fertiliser designed to raise or lower the pH level. Test the garden's pH and raise or lower it to between 6 and 7, if needed.
Dig holes slightly larger than the herb starter pots and space them out 10 cm apart. The amount of space needed between holes varies depending on the size and type of herb, and many starter plants come with instruction tags that explain how far apart they need to be spaced.
Plant the herbs in the holes by gently pulling the plants out of their starter pots, placing them in the holes and filling in the area around their roots with soil.
Water the herbs regularly with about 2.5 cm of water per week in most conditions and more than this in really hot weather or quick-drying garden beds.
A good time to harvest herbs is just before they flower, because their flavour is strongest before flowering.
Not all perennial herbs can survive for several years in areas with very cold winters. Rosemary and lavender will die during cold winters if they are left outside. Transplant these herbs into pots and bring them inside for winter, or replant them each year after the cold winter kills them.
Tips and warnings
- A good time to harvest herbs is just before they flower, because their flavour is strongest before flowering.
- Not all perennial herbs can survive for several years in areas with very cold winters. Rosemary and lavender will die during cold winters if they are left outside. Transplant these herbs into pots and bring them inside for winter, or replant them each year after the cold winter kills them.