Melinda's Gardening How-To: Fresh Herbs - Pasquesi Home and Gardens
Melinda's Gardening How-To: Growing Herbs

Melinda’s Gardening How-To: Fresh Herbs

Whether growing in a container, mixed amongst flowers and vegetables or in a garden of their own, you will enjoy harvesting your own herbs.


What You Need

  • A bit of space in the garden or mixed border
    • Most herbs prefer full sun and well-drained soil
  • A few containers with drainage holes
    • Fill with a well-drained potting mix
    • Add a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer at planting
  • Herb Plants and Seeds
    • Select those used in your favorite meal and drink recipes, dried arrangements, and potpourris or other crafts
    • Check the tags for spacing and light requirements

A Few Herbs to consider

  • Basil is possibly the most popular herb used in pesto, Italian dishes and more.  Wait for the air and soil temperatures to warm before planting this annual herb outdoors.  Cold temperatures can stunt and weaken the plants increasing the risk of disease. Many are ornamental as well as edible adding color and texture to the garden or container.
  • Cilantro and coriander come from the same plant. When we eat the leaves in salads, salsa and other dishes it’s cilantro. Once it forms seeds that part of the plant is coriander. It is used in rubs, Indian recipes and more. Cilantro likes it cool. When warm weather arrives it quickly goes to flower and seed. Extend the life of your cilantro by keeping the soil cool and moist with proper watering and mulch. Allow the plants to reseed or purchase seeds and make several plantings for additional harvests.
  • Rosemary, like many other herbs, just begs you to give it a pet as you walk by. The fragrance is wonderful and its flavor is popular in fish, chicken and a variety of dishes.  Many gardeners try to overwinter this plant indoors. Place it in a cool sunny location and keep the soil moist. Fortunately it still smells wonderful even after the leaves turn brown.
  • Parsley not only freshens your breath but it is a good source of vitamin C. Use it in your favorite vegetable recipes, soups and more. Many who find cilantro’s flavor a bit too intense use parsley instead.  This biennial is usually grown as an annual. It often survives the winter, flowers and dies the second season. The leaves are still edible but often a bit bitter and tough.
  • Chives provide a mild onion flavor to salads, potatoes and other dishes. The leaves and the flowers are edible. These easy care herbs are hardy perennials that reseed readily.  Dig and divide overgrown plantings in spring. Weed out or share any unwanted seedlings.
  • Oregano is a vigorous perennial used to season suaces, bread and vegetables. It makes a nice edible groundcover or edger in the garden and spiller in a container. Contain the plants or be prepared to do a bit of weeding and thinning to keep this vigorous grower inbounds.
  • Mint is great for flavoring tea, water, cocktails and desserts. Grow mint in a container on your patio, steps or deck to keep it from taking over the garden. Some gardeners plant this herb in a pot with drainage holes sunk into the ground. Leave the lip of the container exposed several inches.  You will slow it down but this aggressive plant can escape and invade the garden
  • Lavender adds a bit of elegance and flavor to any meal.  Add some to your lemonade or favorite baked goods. Full sun and well-drained soil are a must for winter survival. In spring wait until new growth appears before pruning out winter damaged stems.
  • Thyme is used for flavoring stocks, soups, sauces and main dishes. Grow in full sun and well-drained soil for greater winter survival.  The plant stems often root along the ground so even if the main plant dies these rooted stems take over.  Prune out dead stems after new growth appears in spring.
  • Sage is a popular seasoning for sauces, poultry dressing, and sausages. Grow this perennial in well-drained soils for good productivity and winter survival. The texture and color options make this a wonderful ornamental as well as edible addition to the garden or containers.

Caring for Herbs

  • Water new plantings thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil slightly moist. 
    • Check container plantings daily
    • Once established water plants growing in the garden thoroughly when the top few inches of soil are crumbly and just slightly moist.
  • Mulch the soil with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic material to conserve moisture, suppress weeds and improve the soil as they decompose
  • Check the tags for any specific care instructions.

Harvesting Herbs

  • Use a pair of garden scissors or pruners for harvesting. Make your cuts above a set of healthy leaves to keep plants looking good.
  • Snip a few leaves or stems as needed throughout the season. You generally need 2 to 3 times more fresh than dried herbs
  • Harvest regularly to encourage new growth. You will get the most intense flavor from herbs harvested just prior to flowering.
  • You can cut annual herbs back by 50 to 75% and perennial herbs by one third at a time. The plants will recover for future harvests.



Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Gardening How-To with you!

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