Growing Your Own Herbs

A starter guide for growing culinary herbs plus 5 tips for beginners


Having your own herb garden sounds like an idyllic situation: You'll have an endless supply of fresh, fragrant herbs, and it will be an incredible way to get in touch with nature. But how do you actually make this happen? 

We turned to garden expert Ellen Ecker Ogden for some basic advice. She started her first garden over 30 years ago in Vermont and began just like everyone else: She read tons of books to learn ways to remove soil, replace it with compost, and how to sow seeds. She quickly realized that gardening takes time, practice, and a lot of trial and error, but it hasn’t stopped her. She recently published a fantastic new book called The Complete Kitchen Garden as a comprehensive guide for planting almost any type of garden. Plus, recipes to use for your newly grown accomplishments. Check out her tips and delicious concoctions below so you can get started on your own garden today. 

Click here to see the Fresh Basil Vinaigrette recipe. 

From Ellen... 

5 Tips for New Gardeners

1. Plan before you plant. Take a close look at your landscape to determine the best place for the garden.

2. Start small. Don’t dig up the whole front lawn, but start with a 4-by-4-foot square and expand.

3. Think carefully about what you want to grow — if you can buy zucchini at the farmers market, why grow it? Instead, choose unusual and delicate salad greens and basil which you will enjoy every day.

4. Keep it weeded. Every single weed if left to go to seed will produce thousands of new weed seeds. Take time every day or week to cultivate the soil.

5. Plant successive crops. Once the first lettuce is harvested, have another set already to go in the ground. This way you can extend your growing (and eating) season longer.


Where to Start

First, learn the difference between annual herbs and perennials. Perennials will come back every year, while annuals will grow for only a single season. Annuals grow rapidly however, and actually respond to harvest — the more you pick the larger the plant will grow. It's fairly easy to start seed for basil, dill, and cilantro directly in the garden, which are wonderful flavors for summer recipes.