Have some extra space in your yard or garden? Plant a fresh and simple herb garden only steps away from the kitchen.
basil ('Purple Ruffles' or 'Dani')
Pick the location for your herb garden. An ideal location would be a few steps from your kitchen, but any spot that gets about six hours of sun a day is good. If you have space in front of a kitchen window, plant the herbs in small containers for an indoor garden.
Prepare the area for planting by loosening the soil. If the soil is compacted or consists of heavy clay, improve drainage by adding some compost, peat moss or coarse sand. Work the material into the top foot of soil before you plant. Tip: Plant early in the morning or late in the afternoon to prevent the transplants from wilting in the midday sun.
Because you are starting herbs from bedding plants and not seeds, you will need to create larger planting holes. Dig each hole to about twice the width of the root ball of the new plant.
Space the bedding plants about 18 inches apart to give them room to spread out and grow. Tip: Place taller herbs, like sage, rosemary and marjoram, toward the back of the garden, and place parsley and cilantro at the front.
Add labels to each of your freshly planted herbs to make them easy to identify when cooking.
For accents of color in your herb garden, add flowering plants like zinnias and salvia. Tip: Plant perennials on one side and annuals on the other for easier replanting next year.
Give the new transplants plenty of water. Once established, make sure your herbs get an inch of water each week throughout the growing season.
Begin harvesting from the herbs as soon as they are mature, but take only a little bit each time you harvest. If you remove more than a third of the plant at one time, it takes longer to recover and produce new foliage. To promote branching, keep the tops of the plants pinched back in early summer. With judicious picking, most herbs can be harvested for several months. Tip: Fresh herbs taste best when harvested in the morning. Also, herbs are most flavorful if harvested before they bloom.