There is space for a herb garden everywhere. Sage, thyme, rosemary and other culinary and medicinal herbs take up little space and are easy to care for. You can harvest even without a garden, because herb gardens can also be easily created on the balcony.
Different types of herb gardens
Whether in a bed, in pots, in a herb spiral or also based on a classic pharmacy garden in the form of rectangles or circles: herbs can be cultivated in a variety of ways.
Herb beds in the garden have the advantage that they can be divided into individual sections, which are usually connected by narrow paths. Bordering from box or alternatively from chives give the whole a chic frame. Pots and buckets need little space and can be placed anywhere.
Raised beds, herb spirals or so-called herb wheels are also very popular as herb gardens, where the herbs are placed between the spokes of a wagon wheel lying on the floor. Herbal gardens are happy to be created on or right next to the terrace, so that you can harvest quickly in between.
Dill is one of the most popular culinary herbs and is consumed as quickly as possible after the harvest.
A curved herb bed with casually grouped herbs is suitable for natural gardens. The best way to limit the herb beds is with materials that are typical of the region: boulders, quarry stones, clinker or roof tiles. Narrow paths made of gravel or bark mulch meander through the herb garden and invite you to take a walk as “aroma paths””.
A herb garden with kitchen herbs is classic, and many swear by a bed for other medicinal plants. Kitchen herbs are always needed for varied dishes, so the way to the kitchen should be as short as possible. A herb garden in clay pots, wooden boxes or wicker baskets on the terrace or balcony is practical.
Herbs for every location
The plants themselves often reveal where they feel particularly comfortable:
Herbs for partial shade
You can tell from the foliage which herbs are well cared for in the rather cool penumbra: Large, soft and rather thin leaves indicate a high water requirement that can hardly be covered in the sun. This is particularly true for lemon balm and domestic mint, but also for meadow herbs such as chervil and sorrel. These herbs grow in every potting soil.
Herb garden in blazing sun
Hot and sunny – that sounds like a holiday on the Mediterranean and in fact mostly Mediterranean herbs can cope in the blazing sun. Herbs such as sage, thyme, rosemary or lavender have leaves that are specially adapted to heat and limit water loss to a minimum either through small leaves, thick leaves or hairy leaves.
Herb garden in the shade
Herbs love warmth and sun, in really shady locations only wild garlic or woodruff grow, while in partial shade almost all non-Mediterranean culinary herbs and oregano and garlic grow.
A place directly on the terrace is ideal for a herb garden. A water-permeable floor is important.
Create herb garden: step-by-step instructions
1. Location and claims
Mediterranean residents in the herb garden like it sunny and a little protected from the wind on permeable soil. Once such herbs have grown in, they can also cope with dryness. Salad herbs such as parsley, chives, chervil and dill, on the other hand, like more substantial, often slightly damp, earth. For this reason, Mediterranean herbs and lettuce herbs should not grow in the same pot.
Basil is a jack of all trades for many recipes, in the garden it is more of a special case: it needs a lot of heat, but does not like full sun. Basil must be kept evenly moist, but should never be left in the cold rain. That’s why he gets a pot for himself in the herb garden or a place under a canopy.
2. Use herbs
Short-lived herbs such as parsley or basil can be sown, either in pots on the windowsill or at the final location in the herb garden. These herbs should be renewed annually in order to always have top-fit plants. Other herbs such as thyme are perennials and are only renewed once every few years.
Perennial herbs can be bought as a finished plant in a pot or grown yourself using head cuttings. To do this, cut off 5 – 10 cm long shoot tips in late summer and put them in sowing soil, which must be kept moist until the shoots shoot again. Perennials like mint are easy to divide and replant.
3. Prepare space for the herb garden
First we carefully remove the weeds from the space provided for the herb garden, loosen the soil and improve loamy soil with sand and compost.
Improve the soil: For herbs to grow in heavy clay soil, you have to improve it with sand and compost. Otherwise the herbs get wet feet and just mumble to themselves. If you want to create a herb garden, you have to offer it the right soil. Sandy, well drained and with little nutrients – Mediterranean herbs stand on real scrap soil on which hardly any other plants grow. The ph value for herbs should be at least 6.5. If it is lower, spread lime.
4. Harvest herbs
Herbs are harvested continuously, but have no problem with the constant cut, on the contrary, this even keeps the plants vital and compact, especially the woody plants such as lavender or rosemary.
Herbs for everyday use should be harvested on sunny days, preferably in the early morning when the leaves are still fresh and crisp. It is best to store different types of herbs separately after harvesting so that their aromas do not mix. Some herbs like fennel and dill cannot be saved, but should be consumed fresh.
Herbs are best harvested on a sunny day, when the aroma is best developed.
5. Preserve herbs
The yield of an herb garden often exceeds daily needs, but can be easily preserved.
Drying: Fresh herbs dry in an airy, warm and dry place in the garden. To do this, hang the herbs in bundles upside down on a hanger. If the branches rustle, gently strip off the leaves and store them in dark glasses. Individual leaves are dried on a wire mesh or in the oven.
Freeze: Cut dill, chives or parsley into small pieces, put in ice cube trays and fill up with water. Store the frozen cubes individually in aluminum foil in the ice compartment.
Soak in oil: let sprigs of thyme, rosemary and basil dry for a day. Put in bottles with salt, pepper and garlic, fill up with olive oil and close.
Herbs are dried bundled and hanging upside down in an airy and warm place.
Care tips for the herb garden
When to cut back Mediterranean herbs?
Lavender, thyme or sage is best in early spring. Sage can cut back to the base, lavender and thyme should only be cut back by about a third of the shoot length. Tip: Mediterranean herbs such as marjoram, thyme, sage and rosemary love the sun and lean soil, so you shouldn’t plant them with chives or basil, which prefer fresh soil.
How much fertilizer do herbs need?
Most herbs belong to the weaker diets and get by with the nutrients present in the soil. Stronger growing herbs such as basil or parsley, of which a lot is harvested at short intervals, are given a liquid fertilizer every three to four weeks. Special herb fertilizers are not absolutely necessary in the herb garden, normal flower fertilizers can be diluted 1:10 with water.
How do you water herbs?
Ingrown herbs rarely need water and hardly any fertilizer. However, this does not apply to seedlings or freshly planted young plants that like permanently moist soil in the bed for the first few weeks. Always remove damaged sheets immediately.
What to do if pests infest the herbs?
This happens very rarely. This is probably due to the high concentration of essential oils in the herbs. If lice do appear: avoid chemical pesticides and spray the herbs with a powerful water jet every now and then. If you have fertilized too much sage and thyme, mildew can spread. Simply cut back the plant strongly.
Multiply herbs yourself
One and two year old herbs such as parsley, basil or dill are sown. Seed tapes or discs are practical, in which the seeds are enclosed between two layers of fleece. Perfect for pots. Perennial herbaceous species such as chives, mint, lemon balm or marjoram can be divided in spring. Woody species such as thyme, sage or rosemary can be propagated by cuttings in early summer.
Urban gardening: herbs in a small space & balcony
Especially in cities, a herb garden on the balcony is the only way for a rich harvest. And your guests will be amazed if you bring fresh herbs for the kitchen from the balcony instead of flowers for the vase.
Unlike in the bed, balcony herbs and often also on the terrace do not get enough rainwater and therefore have to be watered more frequently. The space is naturally limited, so herbal blends are particularly suitable. Of course, you shouldn’t expect a self-catering herb garden on a balcony.
Herb garden on windy balconies: Of course, a balcony does not necessarily mean a permanent windy location, but it is windier than in the bed. Therefore, compact, steadfast varieties are particularly suitable for a herb garden. Herbs with large soft leaves shred in the wind. From the supermarket you know the Genovese basil, which gets quite tall and suffers from the wind with its large leaves. Compact varieties’ Marseillais’ or ‘Picolino are better.
Little space? Then it is best to plant herbs on planting stairs or in plant bags.
For a herb garden on a mini balcony, the same applies in principle as for small gardens: you go up in the air with the plants! For example with plant shelves, for which simple boards on metal angles are sufficient.
Several balcony boxes attached to one another on the wall can also serve as a herb garden. Clay pots are particularly space-saving and are stacked on a central rod through the water drainage holes. Herbs that can cope with little root space and are therefore also suitable for small pots, e.g. Thyme, chives or marjoram.
Medicinal herb garden – a treat for body and soul
Chamomile for inflammation, sage for cough – medicinal herbs are grown not because of their taste, but because of their medicinal effects. At home, the yields from the medicinal herb garden play a role primarily as proven home remedies. It is wonderful to take a hot bath after a hard day. Herbs give off their essential oils easily in warm water.
Medicinal herbs are best enjoyed as tea.
Lavender is also a medicinal herb that soothes and harmonises as a bath additive, lemon balm has a relaxing effect. Rosemary, on the other hand, gets the circulation going. In summer you rub yourself with home-made rubbing alcohol based on rosemary. This cools comfortably and can prevent some sore muscles. If a sore throat announces a cold, we drink warm sage tea. Later drops of thyme relieve the cough. And if your stomach is squeezing again, classic chamomile tea may help. With insect bites and mild sunburn, dabbing lavender oil on the affected areas can help. This has an anti-inflammatory effect. Arnica ointment works for blunt injuries, and calendula ointment is used to treat small wounds.