After reading about herb gardening in Cool Climate Culinary Herb Garden and thinking about which fresh herbs you might want in your own garden, you’re ready to take action! Along with purchasing the starters, it is also incredibly beneficial to invest a little extra time in your soil. Healthy, nutrient-rich soil is a good supplement to the kind of dirt you may be planting in, and is important for growth and development, as well as taste! Herbs taste better if they get the nutrients they need and will also be more likely to grow to their full potential in the months to come.
To plant a starter, you have to dig a hole about twice as long as the roots, fill it halfway with some nutrient-rich soil, and then gently hold the starter over the hole, so that its roots touch the bottom of where the hole is filled up to. Use the nutrient-rich soil to fill up the rest of the hole around the root mass. Make sure that the base of the plant is level with the ground. Once the hole is filled up, gently pack the soil down.
Be sure to water the soil when it feels dry throughout the spring and summer. A good way to measure this is by sticking your finger into the soil; if it feels dry a couple inches deep, it needs water. As long as you water your herbs enough, they won’t need much care other than weeding around the plant and pinching off flowers when they appear. By pinching the flowers, you stimulate growth and flavor in the leaves, which in this case gives the herbs you’ll be cooking with the fullest flavor. It will also help your plant sustain its hardiness throughout temperature fluctuations in the coming seasons.
Many people cook with fresh picked culinary herbs, but for those who would like to keep a steady supply on hand in the kitchen, just pick as many branches as you want, tie them together, and then hang them upside-down until they are crispy to the touch. Once dry, crumble the herbs into small flakes and put them in an air-tight container (preferably a glass jar) and store for future use.
Whether cooking with culinary herbs fresh from the garden, or recently picked and dried, you’ll be thankful they are your own, as the taste will far surpass any packaged herbs you can purchase in the grocery store.