4 simple steps to growing your own healthy herb garden

Photo courtesy of St. George Health & Wellness Magazine, St. George News

FEATURE — It happens every spring. I run into the house to excitedly tell my husband that the wisteria is budding, the daffodil bulbs are pushing through the soil, the mint is turning that lovely shade of green or that the Lady Banks roses have tiny yellow buds. He always looks at me with a sense of awe and says, “Show me!”

I happily begin pointing things out in our garden because each year it still never fails to evoke a sense of wonder and excitement that spring is upon us.

It’s a time of glorious beauty, excitement, warmth and renewal. The best part is that it’s that time of year when we begin planning, planting and growing our own food in our own gardens. I generally plant the first week of April when the frost danger is usually over and it’s safe to plant but there’s still plenty of time.

By the way, don’t forget to get the children or grandchildren involved in planning, purchasing and planting your garden. It’s such fun and so important to introduce children to gardening and growing healthy foods.

A culinary herb garden is simple and fun to plant. There are a few things to consider about the process of planting, and they are as easy as one, two, three! OK, maybe one, two, three, four …

Culinary herbs | Image courtesy of Pixabay, St. George News
Culinary herbs | St. George News

One —  It’s time to choose your herbs. I’ll help by sharing some herbs thrive in the St. George area climate and are very accessible to purchase as seeds or young plants at your local nurseries.

I recommend Italian large leaf basil, Italian oregano, English thyme, sage, rosemary, flat-leafed parsley, Long Island dill, lemon balm mint and English lavender. You can start with all of these herbs, or just pick a few; either way you will soon be so glad you did.

Two — Gardening is all about the location, location, location! It’s important to choose a spot that your herbs will love.

Herbs love the sun and will reward you with denser leaves, darker colors, and better levels of essential oils that provide those amazing flavors. Be sure they get at least four hours of sunlight daily, planting close to your kitchen if possible.

There is nothing better than going out to your garden during cooking times to trim the leaves of a plant you grew and getting a whiff of that wonderful aroma. It’s like adding a pinch of nature and love to your family’s meals, compliments of you.

Basil with irrigation system | St. George News
Basil with irrigation system | St. George News

Three — It starts with quality soil. It is critical to the health of your plants that you begin with good soil and add compost – about an inch of compost over the top, mixed into your soil. This applies if you are going to place your herbs in pots, an above ground garden or directly into the ground.

Soil specifically for containers is better if you decide to use pots. Proper drainage is also important if you use pots to grow your herb garden.

Four — It’s all about the watering. Most herbs grow best in well-drained soil and develop their best flavors when kept a bit on the dry side. Check your plants regularly and you will be able to tell when they get thirsty – they will also let you know when they are happy with the way you are caring for them.

A good way to water your thirsty herbs is the keep the leaves dry and water to moisten the roots. It doesn’t matter if you have an irrigation system set up for your in-the-ground plants or if you are using a hose or watering can for potted plants. Find what works best for your lifestyle and time availability to water and check on your plants.

Caprese | Image courtesy of Pixabay, St. George News
Caprese | St. George News

Imagine how happy you’ll be that you started a garden when you serve your first Italian meal to your family or friends with a plate of fragrant, freshly torn basil to adorn their food.

You can look forward to the pure delight of picking that fresh bouquet of thyme, parsley and mint on a beautiful day or handing your dinner hostess a little arrangement of lavender, sage and rosemary to place on her table at a dinner gathering.

Gardening really is such a natural and simple thing to do, but it provides such wonderful rewards. I hope this is just the beginning of you falling in love with gardening and growing your own food. I truly hope it brings you all of the joy and pleasure it brings me each and every time I plant.

Chrystal Deshowitz, location and date not provided | Photo courtesy of St. George Health & Wellness Magazine, St. George News
Chrystal Deshowitz

Written by Chrystal Deshowitz

About Chrystal Deshowitz

Crystal Deshowitz is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. She and her husband Marc relocated to Southern Utah in 2008 for a lifestyle change, and she now enjoys coordinating educational/hiking excursions with her husband for the Dixie Road Scholar program. Chrystal is a master gardener and loves gardening, hiking, traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

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