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Herb Garden Basics

Herb Garden Basics

Starting a herb garden is a simple process that does not require much effort, especially if you’ve had practice with gardening before. Some key elements are required, such as good quality soil, amount of space, and design & space plays a huge role.

What’s Good Soil? How do you know?

Firstly, it is understood that good soil needs the mixture of clay to retain water, sand to drain water and organic matter to provide nutrients.

Determining Quality of Soil:

What is the soil made of? If it has mostly clay, add some sand and vise versa. Most soils need organic matter added to enhance nutrient levels in the plants. The soil needs to be properly balanced and often times you can add more organic matter, such as compost (raw fruits and veggies) to the soil from time to time to increase proper growth of bacteria.

Note:  Best to wait up to 3 weeks to add compost to ensure the decomposition process has stabilized.

Nutrient-Dense Soil: 

Many people use fertilizer, which can act quickly and damage young plants. Simply by adding compost to the soil, it will remain nourished and the plants can be protected by pests and diseases. Avoid adding incompletely decomposed material to the garden, as bacteria may compete with plants for nitrogen in the soil. Plants may look discolored or yellow if that happens.

Materials You Need For Soil:

  • Dried leaves (mulch)
  • Dead flowers
  • Paper
  • News paper
  • Straw
  • Nitrogen-rich Materials (fresh-cut grass, fresh compost kitchen scraps, or loose leaf tea)

How Much Space Do You Need?

Space between plants should be around 4 feet long by 4 feet wide. Blend materials and place where you want them, cover it with news paper. The news paper will keep the plants insulated. Plants that are decomposing will increase nutrients in the soil. It is important to check the composition of the soil (clay, sand, and organic matter) each year to ensure it is properly balanced.

Design & Location: 

Think of where you want to spend most of your time while gardening (digging, planting, and watering). You want to be sure the layout is convenient. You want to be sure you are able to provide your herb garden with proper lighting, shade, moisture, properly balanced pH, and air for the betterment of plants. Do not over think it, simplicity is key.

Planters vs Raised Beds:

For those who live in urban areas, the soil may not be nutrient dense or you may not have a large enough yard to plant an out-door garden. You may want to use a wooden planter or smaller single containers. You can still save your compost and add to the soil of each planter or container. Using planters or containers is very reasonable as you can continue to garden through the winter months and keep your favorite herbs on hand. Raised beds is another option if the soil is not very nutrient rich in your area. By using pieces of wood and basic hardware, raised beds can be as effective as using planters.

With little or no money at all, you can build your herb garden literally from the grown up! This process is something that should be simple and effective. Your herb garden can be maintained all year-long with little to no effort. With patience, tender, love, and care you can achieve creating a sustainable herb garden.


E. Vinje. (16 January 2018). “How to Prepare Garden Soil for Planting.” Planet Natural, 15 Sept. 2017, Web.

Unknown Author. (16 January 2018). “Benefits and Uses.” Benefits and Uses – Composting for the Homeowner – University of Illinois Extension, Web.

Neverman, Laurie, et al. “How to Start a Garden – 10 Steps to Gardening for Beginners.”Common Sense Home, Web.

Healthy Living,

Jaclyn Rae

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