How Do You Start A Herb Garden For Beginners?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:56 pm

They smell, repel bugs and taste simply delicious. Kitchen herbs are a true enrichment of every household. Which herbs bacelong in a herb garden – whether on the balcony or in the garden, how you can best care for them and what you should avoid, you will learn in this article.

They make your own four walls more homely, add immense value to cooking and are relatively easy to care for. Planting kitchen herbs is worthwhile for a variety of reasons.

How Do You Start A Herb Garden For Beginners?

Both on the balcony and in the garden, you can grow virtually any herbs. It is important to consider the light and soil conditions, and also which plants will fit next to each other. Once the plants are thriving, they just need to be properly watered and fertilized. But more about that later.

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Which herbs belong in the herb garden?

Birds of a feather flock together
Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary, lavender, thyme or sage are very popular. They love direct sunlight, but do not need so much water. Since the needs of these herbs harmonize very well, they should be planted next to each other.

Since rosemary has a positive effect on the growth of basil, these two definitely belong next to each other. In addition, basil protects its neighbors from pests. So you can plant basil in the middle without worrying.

Which plants can be planted next to each other?

Which herbs do not fit together in one pot?
Marjoram should be planted with some distance between them. This gets along less well with thyme. Marjoram loves direct sunlight and enjoys the calm. Accordingly, it can be planted next to other kitchen herbs without hesitation.

It becomes quite uncomplicated with lemon balm. Lemon balm encourages the growth of other herbs and has similar needs to Mediterranean herbs. Sunny to partial shade and adequate moisture will make them happy.

Not all love the sun, some like it in partial shade too
Which plant gets the shade spot? Parsley is best. This likes especially partial shade places and a lot of water. Mediterranean herbs need less water. However, waterlogging should be avoided with all herbs. We’ll get to that.

Chervil also needs a shady spot, as it does not do well with heat. Chervil thrives best when it has its territory all to itself. So on the balcony, it’s best to plant it in its own pot. In the garden, it should be given plenty of space.

Chives, dill and mint: This is how the herb classics thrive.

Hardly indispensable for the European kitchen is chives. Fortunately, they are very frugal and easy to grow and care for. A semi-shady to sunny spot, moist, loose soil and not too much water allows chives to sprout quickly. Usually it grows even in shady places.

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Dill gets along very well with chives. Thanks to its fragrance, dill deters pests and, accordingly, is a popular neighbor. The only difficulty that arises with dill is the location. Dill absolutely does not tolerate waterlogging, but needs plenty of water. A tall plant pot that prevents waterlogging solves this problem. Otherwise, dill is quite undemanding.

A wonderful scent spreads mint and therefore should not be missing in any herb garden. Mint does not like blazing midday sun, nor pelting rain. A sheltered, semi-shaded location is optimal. Unfortunately, commercial potting soil is unsuitable for planting mint. It thrives better in herbal soil enriched with compost. Preferably, it is watered regularly and abundantly, without waterlogging.

As long as the location requirements of the plants are considered when creating the herb garden, annual and perennial herbs each find a place together and the water requirements are considered when caring for them, nothing stands in the way of a hobby gardener’s career. But how is the water requirement satisfied without creating waterlogging?

This is how you avoid the development of waterlogging

The most important thing to avoid waterlogging on the balcony is to use pots with drainage holes. All pots without these holes are basically unsuitable and complicate the care of plants.

If said drainage holes are missing, you can drill them afterwards. The best way to do this is with a hammer drill. Where the hole is to be made, you should put tape and drill through the pot as quickly as possible. Be very careful when doing this!

Drainage holes can also become clogged. There are two ways to avoid waterlogging in this case. Either you check the drainage holes regularly and loosen the soil or you put some clay discs on the bottom of the containers.

In addition, the soil should always be loose and permeable. Otherwise, the water has little chance to drain. The firmness of the soil has a great influence on the humidity. Before you start a new plant, you should always research what soil and location the plants prefer. Some culinary herbs thrive in standard potting soil, some are a little more demanding.

Without a drainage hole, drainage can help. For some plants, it’s even worth investing in pots with drainage holes and drainage. All you need to do is layer gravel or grit alternately with soil.

You can prevent waterlogging in the garden by regularly loosening the soil around your plants. If the composition of the soil is right, waterlogging will not occur. As soon as small puddles form in the garden or some plants already look sickly, you should carry out a soil analysis. If loosening the soil does not help, the drainage trick in the garden can also be helpful.

Balcony Basics: Which pot is the right one?

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One thing is clear – the pot should have drainage holes. But what else should be considered when choosing a pot? If you use seeds, the pot can be relatively small to begin with. However, the plant will then need to be repotted in any case.

An herb like dill you should plant in a large pot from the beginning, as it can be very allergic to being moved. Plants that thrive best without neighbors in the immediate area should be planted in their own container.

Lemon balm, basil and similar plants, on the other hand, are best in a window box, as they are good for each other. Herbs such as rosemary and lavender are large and accordingly need a large pot with a diameter of at least 30 centimeters. For parsley, on the other hand, a pot with a diameter of about 20 centimeters is enough.

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Proper care: do not forget to water and fertilize!

The best time to water your plants is in the morning or evening, when there is no sunlight. Why shouldn’t you water plants in the blazing midday sun? First, the water would evaporate before it reaches the roots. Second, the water droplets on the leaves act like burning glasses. Accordingly, the leaves burn in the sunshine.

If you notice in the middle of the day that your plant looks terribly thirsty, you should take it out of the sun for a few hours. You can put the pot of the plant in a bucket of water for about an hour, maximum three hours. In the evening, the plant can then be returned to its usual location.

Tip: If the temperatures are particularly high, some herbs need water twice a day.

Since not every plant needs the same amount of water, you should always do the finger test before watering. If the soil is dry, the plant needs water. If the soil is still moist, you should not water it yet. In addition, especially the root needs water. So don’t just water the leaves and flowers, but water so that the water has a chance to reach the roots.

Fertilize yes, but please do not overfertilize

Basically, herbs in pots tend to need additional fertilization, as commercial potting soil has a lower nutrient content. Those who have the opportunity to grow their herbs in the garden have a clear advantage here. However, potting soil is always pre-fertilized. Accordingly, you don’t need to worry about it for the first six to eight weeks.

Then, when the time comes, first of all the nutrient-consuming herbs need fertilizing. These include herbs such as chives, basil, mint and parsley. Plants with lower nutrient requirements should not be fertilized too quickly, as this can result in over-fertilization. These include marjoram, rosemary and thyme, among others.

With these basics, the herb garden succeeds.

With or without a garden – to guarantee good growth it needs a suitable location, sufficient watering, and indeed the right way to water the plants and now and then a fertilizer.

When the plant grows larger, it needs more space and must be repotted or transplanted. From frost all perennial culinary herbs must be protected.

If you regularly remove dead leaves, stems and the flowers of herbs, your plants will lead an even happier life.

Last time, in our Gardening series, we showed you how to grow a beautiful lawn as a beginner gardener and the best way to get seeds to germinate. This week, it’s time to create your own herb garden. Herbs spice up any dish. All the finer if they come from your own garden or balcony.

6 Valuable Tips For Your Own Herb Garden

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First the good news: even if there is little space on the balcony or in the garden, a small herb garden always works out. Even with little or no gardening experience, you can do almost nothing wrong with homegrown herbs.

The plants are not very demanding. However, it is already good to follow a few simple tips and rules when planning:

Tip 1: Make a good choice of herbs

Before plunging into the variety of garden herbs, it is worth considering which ones you need most often for seasoning and refining food and drinks. It is advisable to plant only those herbs that you use for your own needs. With this, you have already made a good choice. Here you can order an assortment of organic herb seeds*.

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Tip 2: Choose the best location

The next thing to determine is what conditions the various herbs need to grow. Many garden herbs do very well with our climate. Nevertheless, you should take into account the preferences of the plants.

To those that prefer a sunny spot, give them a bright spot. The herbs that prefer partial shade, find a place next to a tree or shrub.

Tip 3: Lay out the herb garden properly.

Once the site is found, divide the area for your own herb garden. For a bed, dig the soil to a depth of about 15 centimeters. The following applies to all herbs: The soil should be loose and water-permeable. To prevent waterlogging, you can first fill in a layer of sand or fine gravel. Then fill the bed with fresh soil.

Squared timbers, stones, bark mulch visually separate the area from the lawn. Stones also have the advantage that Mediterranean herbs in particular benefit from the stored heat.

Hero tip: Fertilizers should be avoided. Herbs are not too demanding and eventually it ends up on your own plate.

Tip 4: Wait for the best time

Herbs can be planted outside from mid-May. Then there is no longer a risk of freezing nights or ground frost damaging the plants.

Annual plants, such as some cress, cilantro, marjoram, dill, can be sown directly. Perennial herbs can be planted in September or in the spring. If you want to use the time in the spring, you can already grow seedlings in the apartment, in a greenhouse. How to do this, you can read here in our story.

Tip 5: Give herbs the right neighbor

When planting, make sure that each herb has enough room to grow. It also helps to have a good neighbor. Separating annual and perennial herbs makes sense. Mediterranean herbs make a good grouping because they have similar needs for soil texture, sun and water.

Lemon balm is a fairly straightforward garden neighbor and encourages all but basil. Mint is not easy to get along with. Chamomile and sage are uncomfortable next to it.

Hero tip: Before you start planting, make a sketch of where to put what.

Tip 6: Care for your herb bed

Herbs like water, especially in the early morning. They do not need too much. Always loosen the soil around the herbs so that the water reaches the roots well.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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