Having access to a small herb garden can be as simple as having a nice large squatty pot just outside your kitchen door containing a few of your favorite herbs like the one at the left containing sweet basil, purple leaf basil, chives and flat leaf parsley.
Your food preference tastes should dictate what you would like to grow. Two favorites that almost everyone would agree upon are parsley and chives. Their mild flavors are very versatile and can be used in any variety of cuisine.
Perhaps you want your mini garden within arms reach of your cooking area. All you have to do is design a window box or group of planters for your kitchen. When creating this mini herb garden, decide where your box will be located.
The amount of sun that you get in the chosen window will dictate which herbs to select. Both southern and western exposures are generally sunny and hot. Good choices are are thyme, coriander, French lavender, bay laurel, basil, lemon verbena, dill, parsley, chives, sage and rosemary. A nice combination of both upright and trailing herbs is attractive, so consider adding creeping thymes or oregano or to you mini garden for a little eye appeal.
Northern and eastern exposures will provide more shade and are not as warm. Shade loving plants that will work nice here include parsley, spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, chives, borage, and Cuban oregano.
Fill your container(s) half full of potting soil mix with equal parts of potting soil, peat moss and vermiculite. Move and place plants until you are pleased with how the design looks. Remember to keep in mind the mature sizes of the plants and what their growth habits are. Do not place a
plant that will mature at 12 inches in front of a plant that will mature no taller than 2 inches. Don't fear mixing plants together - it will not hurt anything.
Once you have settled on the placement of the plants, add potting soil to about 1 inch below the rim of the container. Tamp the soil down firmly and liberally water. Pinch back any large growth to promote thick growth.
When planning an herb garden outside, you can start modestly with a few pots on the patio or located on a bakers rack. Some herbs like sage, thyme and mint are available in different colors, so that you can make an attractive bed in various shades.
Construct the bed as close as possible to the house, so you do not neglect to gather the herbs for cooking during wet weather. Whenever possible, grow each type of herb in a separate pocket. You can actually divide the bed into distinct pockets with dwarf hedges of lavender or you can use concrete or stone pavers or stones to add a landscaped design. This way, herbs may easily be reached by footpaths and easily replaced without disturbing other plants that are nearby. Keeping plants harvested insures thick and hearty growth.
Since most herbs grow well in full sun to part shade, choose a spot for your garden that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Make sure there is good drainage and easy accessibility. When planning your garden, take into consideration the height and sizes of herbs; shown below.
Herb Heights and Sizes:
Small: 1- 1 1/2 feet or less in diameter and less than 1 foot tall
Parsley, Chives, Cilantro, Fernleaf Dill (other dills grow to 3' tall), Cuban Basil, Thyme
Medium: 2 feet to 4 feet wide, less than 2 feet tall
Marjoram, Basils (except African Blue), Tarragon, Savory, Thyme, Chocolate Mint and Peppermint
Short but Large: 4-6 feet wide, less than 1 foot tall
Oregano, Spearmint, Orange Mint
Large: 4-6 feet wide and tall
African Blue Basil, Rosemary, Lavenders, Sages, Lemon Verbena, Pineapple Sage
Sweet Bay Laurel (This is actually a tree but it makes a great central point of interest to your herb garden (whether potted or planted in the ground). It grows very slowly but will eventually reach 15-20 feet tall.)