If you’re a beginner gardener looking to get your hands in the soil this spring, a herb garden may be the perfect way to start
Herbs are easy to maintain (especially if you grow perennial varieties that will come back or self-sow each year), and they’re guaranteed to spice up your everyday meals. Did we mention that herbs are prolific and you’ll get a mighty harvest from each plant? But there’s even more than the benefit of flavour when it comes to homegrown herbs, so let’s explore all the benefits of growing your own herbs.
1. Homegrown herbs are delicious and nutritious
Not only will homegrown herbs give your cooking the ultimate flavour boost, they'll also provide more nutrition than your average store-bought herbs. If you’re purchasing herbs from the supermarket, check the label to see where they're grown. Most likely they've travelled a great distance to get to you, which means the majority of nutrients have been depleted by the time they get to your plate. Growing your own herbs means instant harvest for instant nutrients and no carbon emissions from shipping.
2. A herb garden will attract bees and butterflies
As much as we’re looking at the personal benefits of gardening, planting a herb garden will attract beneficial pollinators to your garden (which is also a personal benefit). By housing, feeding and sustaining these pollinators with flowering herbs, such as fennel, dill, chamomile, basil, coriander, cilantro, rosemary and sage (you name it!), you’ll be welcoming them into your space to pollinate your veggies and create a thriving ecosystem right in your own backyard. Plus, many of these species are endangered, so you’re doing the environment a favour too.
3. Herbs help deter pests from the garden
There’s something about certain herbs that make common garden pests stay far away. Using the powerful properties of herbs, such as chives, catnip, mint and borage to your advantage will keep Japanese Beetles, carrot flies, spider mites and aphids at bay so you can enjoy your garden harvest that much more. This way you’ll be able to avoid using harmful insecticides that damage soil life, the environment and our health, and use the power of a nature-based solution instead.Photo by Landis Brown on Unsplash
4. Growing herbs will help save you money
Herbs can be an expensive purchase at the store—you pay a lot for very little. The opposite can be said about a kitchen herb garden. You’ll plant a little, yet each plant will easily produce more than you can imagine. You’ll be freezing homemade basil for pesto, drying dill for your winter potatoes and storing sage and rosemary for those holiday meals. You don’t need a lot of space either; you can set up little pots or a small porch or balcony raised beds and reap the rewards all season long.
5. You can save them for your own teas and herbal tinctures
Herbs have powerful healing and medicinal properties; think of mint for a stomachache, or oil of oregano for a sore throat—now imagine having access to those herbs in your own yard. Mint and oregano are herbs that once you have established, they’ll come back each year (as perennials), so you can say goodbye to store-bought tea packets and expensive bottles of oil of oregano, because you’ll be able to dry, store and create your own. There are plenty of herbal recipes online to help guide you when making tinctures or salves, and it’s just about finding the right uses for your needs.
Herbs are incredibly versatile and so much more than just a cooking spice. Once you start growing your own herbs and see how easy and fun it is, you’ll never be able to go back to buying them at the store.
Start with a few pots of the herbs you eat the most often, then add more each year as you experiment. Remember to enjoy the learning process and always take gardening and plant care at your own pace.