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Monday, March 18, 2013

La Jardin in March: Planning the Herb Garden

Spring brings gardening back to our lives. I have made mention of our love of gardening around here in a few earlier posts.  Before we were parents we spent almost every weekend hour in our gardens, we still spend hours outside but with little G we are easily distracted. But we still haul over to garden centers, nearly weekly, to see what wonderful things are in. 
little G and the start of our herb garden

Early Spring is the perfect time to begin planning and planting an herb garden. I have jotted down a few of our favorites we have used year after year. Mixed in are different uses for herbs, culinary, drinks and the wonderful ways herbs can help other plants in your garden. Keep in mind an herb garden can be in containers on your patio or as plantings in your garden beds. My favorite is to do both, mixing and matching for seasons of growing.

First thing to know is most herbs adore sun. Some will tolerate partial shade throughout the day, especially in a hot climate. Most are annuals but quite a few are perennials, coming back to the garden year after year.

A small list to begin your herb garden:

Basil: culinary, comes in various flavors from spicy to exotic pineapple. grows very quickly, will fill a space or container in no time. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love the colorful spikes. wonderful for proteins, soups and sauces. (love, wealth)!

Bee Balm: my T loves this plant. there is even a variety with our last name! comes in several colors, white, pinks, reds. a member of the mint family it grows tall and easily, hummingbirds adore it. they linger all day for refreshment. add to tea or lemonade for a zesty flavor. perennial, will revisit you every year. 

Chives: a very happy plant, easy to grow. excellent for containers. in the garlic family, add to veggies, soups and chicken salad. I always cut a few stems into my lettuce salads. great companion plant for roses (keeps away black spot and aphids). 

Echinacea or Cone flower: popular plant, huge variety. even a mama mia little G had to have last year. strong, upright plants, easy to grow as plantings or containers. a medicinal perennial herb but wonderful addition to the garden. butterflies love it! (strength)!

Dill: one of my favorites for cooking. easy to grow, will flourish in sun but needs water, almost daily in Summer heat. most excellent in salads, on poultry and seafood. another herb I cut directly in my salads, especially tuna, chicken salad. (luck, money, protection)!

Fennel: a very overlooked herb by most people. my mother in law introduced it to us. comes in a bronze variety that has brownish foliage which is a nice contrast to garden greens. licorice flavor, stalks similar to celery and can be steamed or added to soups and salads. great companion plant for roses as it attracts bugs and keeps them off your roses. butterflies also lay their larvae on the fennel stems. (healing, purification)!

Lavender: a favorite to many, me included. loved for it's fragrance and beauty. a perennial, it will flourish once planted attracting bees, butterflies and birds. you can harvest the flowers throughout the season and use for sachets, wreaths or simple arrangements. our Winters are so mild our plants have barely slept and are ready for warmth. consider planting by your front door for fragrance. (love, happiness)!

Mints: my favorite herb for so many reasons. it is prolific, will fill a space or container within days and continues to grow all season, even with neglect and hot weather. it grows in a wild fashion, drooping over containers and rocks, making it's own way, a bit "viney" and reckless. comes in so many flavors from lemon to chocolate. add to hot or iced tea, flavor waters with the sweet leaves or make your own version of a mojito with the many flavors available. (strength)!

Rosemary: another popular favorite. easy to grow perennial that loves sun and can grow huge! great for meats, veggies, cleans the air, another candidate for your front door. (healing, sleep, youth)!

Thyme: once known as the flower to fairies as they were said to use the small yet strong stems for protection. grows very "bunchy", compact but spreads beautifully. several flavors to choose from. great for soups, proteins. (health, courage)!

This is a small taste of herbs available at your garden center and a few of my favorites that we have planted year after year. Pick a few from my list, start small with patio containers or go big and design a full herb garden but either way enjoy them for what they can do for you and your garden. The birds and bees will thank you!



  1. I've just been thinking about what herbs to plant this year -- thanks for some great ideas. You've inspired me to try some new things.

    I love dill (I especially like it in scrambled eggs and omelets), but I've had problems keeping the critters away from it. Hopefully we won't have those same kind of creatures in our new place!

    1. Carol.
      Thank you for the comment. If your critters are bugs try freeing ladybugs in your garden in early Summer. They will stay and eat pesky plant eaters. I plan on devoting a blog to organic garden solutions for bugs, etc. But ladybugs are a great start and they bring luck!

  2. These are great ideas. I am thinking about planting citronella to help keep away mosquitoes. Do you know anything about citronella? Have you used it? Does it work?

    1. Hi Susan! I have never tried citronella for mosquitoes but I know a few alternatives. Catnip is said to be more effective than the popular chemicals and Cascading Geranium will also keep bugs away, the oil is actually used in natural mosquito repellent products. I think several pots with a mixture of geranium, catnip and citronella would be beautiful. You could incircle the geranium with catnip and citronella, useful and pretty!
      Happy planting.

  3. Thank you! I am going to try it!

    1. Susan!
      Keep me updated. I would love to post pictures!

  4. As an amateur gardener i've been interested in growing more herbs. Thanks to this blog, i've been able to narrow down my list and start growing Bee Balm and Thyme.

    What herbs would you reccomend growing throughout winter in a place of high rainfall (Perth)? Also what's the best recommended way to start growing Catnip?

    Thank you very much for your assistance in my decision making process!