Lifestyle » Vol. 53

The Happiness of Herb Gardening

Whether you were once a longtime gardener or you’re someone who just wants to start out, it can be daunting to think about the amount of work that goes into maintaining a garden. From preparing the soil to constant weeding, gardening – while rewarding – can take a toll on aging knees and back muscles.

But just because gardening requires a lot of work doesn’t mean you have to give up your passion. One of the easiest gardens to maintain is an herb garden. Herbs grow fast and are not high-demand, either in time or physical maintenance. There are few things more rewarding that using fresh herbs in recipes; they enhance flavor and can turn a mundane meal into something extraordinary. Sprinkle fresh herbs from your garden in a sauce or on a salad or use them as a rub for roasted or grilled meat, fish and vegetables, and you’ll feel like a culinary genius!

Growing herbs at home can be easy, whether you live in a house or an apartment. To begin, you can prepare a small garden bed that receives a lot of sunlight. But even easier still is to simply purchase potted herbs and set them near a sunlit window or arrange them in outdoor containers on a back porch.

Basil, oregano, dill, mint, sage, parsley, chives and thyme are good choices for beginners. Give them enough water and sun, and they’ll grow. Rosemary, bay leaves and cilantro can be temperamental, but once you increase your confidence with the easy-to-grow herbs, you can branch out.

Begin with starter plants rather than trying to grow herbs from seed, which can be a little more complicated. Maintain good sunlight, water moderately and make sure there is good drainage in the ground or container.

To harvest herbs, pick leaves from the top – the most tender and tasty – rather than from the bottom; the bottom leaves are, as one herbalist says, the “solar panels” that keep your plant healthy. Be sure to harvest frequently, so your herbs do not begin to flower. If they do, simply cut off the little flower buds to grow more leaves.

There are so many benefits to creating a simple herb garden. You become more aware of the weather and learn to appreciate what it does for your herbs; both sunshine and rain serve to enhance plant growth. Herbs stimulate your senses with their fragrance and beauty. When the summer season wanes, you can bring your herbs indoors for year-round, fresh seasoning for food. You can also harvest and dry an array of herbs to create fragrant potpourri for your home. And even on those days when you’re not in the best of spirits, herb gardening can serve to remind you of your connection to the living planet.

As poet Edward Bulwer-Lytton has written: “Oh, better no doubt is a dinner of herbs/When season’d with love, which no rancour disturbs/And sweeten’d by all that is sweetest in life.”

Start a garden
Check out these products that will help you start your gardening adventure – whether you try a herb garden or something else.

Pollinator Push Garden
Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds play an integral role in our food supply. Help save our pollinators with the Pollinator Push Garden. Each Push Garden includes a curated selection of perennial wildflower seeds, nutrient-rich grow medium and instructions for planting a 1-square-foot garden patch.

Eco Planter
The ultimate accessory for an inspired kitchen, Eco Planters take the guesswork out of gardening. This all-inclusive kit comes equipped with everything you’ll need to start growing organic cilantro, and features a glass canning jar, wick, stainless steel net pot and earth-friendly growing medium.

Garden Jars
This self-watering herb kit feature vintage-inspired mason jars outfitted with a passive hydroponic system known as “wicking,” which brings water and nutrients up to the plant’s roots. Just add water and set in a sunny window.

Windowsill Hydro Planter 
Finally, a windowsill planter and garden jars for style-savvy homesteaders. Enjoy the luxury of growing a variety of herbs, produce and flowers year-round. The planters are self-watering, self-feeding, soilless, simple to set up and lovely to look at.

Visit Modern Sprout at modsprout.com for information on these products.

By Amy Dean

Amy Dean is the author of several books, including Growing Older, Growing Better: Daily Meditations for Celebrating Aging. For more information, visit amydeanwiter.com.

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