Originally Published on October 28, 2020. Last Updated on August 31, 2022.
Planting an herb garden is an excellent way for beginners to develop a green thumb. Herbs are easy to grow, and many varieties take just a few weeks to fully mature from seed to harvest. Plus, you’ll save money by not having to buy fresh herbs from the grocery store.
Follow below to learn how to start a fall herb garden from scratch and which plants are best to grow this season.
Decide What Type of Herb Garden You Want
Herbs are versatile plants. You can use them to garnish your food, brew teas, and even make creams and lotions. Here are some types of herb garden that you can grow in fall:
Culinary Herb Garden
If you’re an avid cook, why wouldn’t you want fresh herbs at your disposal? Consider growing savory herbs such as thyme, parsley, and cilantro to add serious flavors to your autumn meals.
Medicinal Herb Garden
If you’re interested in health and wellness, you can use herbs such as sage and passionflower to make your own tea that provides several health benefits. There are also medicinal plants like aloe that you can grow alongside your herbs.
Scented Herb Garden
Do you love the earthy fragrance that plants provide? Scented herbs, including lavender and rosemary, can give your home a lovely aroma.
Ornamental Herb Garden
While many green thumbs grow herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes, many plants offer a ton of beauty inside and outside your home. Consider perennial favorites such as chives and creeping thyme.
Indoor Herb Garden
If you don’t have an outdoor space garden, you can easily take your plants inside your home. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate setup, either. You can place a small container on a windowsill and still reap the benefits of an herb garden.
Raised Bed Herb Garden
Raised bed gardens are one of the most popular ways to grow herbs, especially if you don’t have the luxury of fertile ground soil. You have more control over your soil, and the raised barriers help protect your herbs from pests and rodents.
Align Your Herbs with the Season
If you’re unsure which herbs to grow this fall, consider some of these plants that thrive in cooler weather.
Thyme is one of the hardiest herbs you can plant in fall. Thymus vulgaris is the most common variety. It provides a strong aroma that enhances meats, sauces, soups, and cheeses. For medicinal purposes, consider other types such as lemon thyme and Pennsylvania Dutch tea thyme. Plant this herb in a well-drained, sunny area.
Mint is an easy herb to grow that you can use for teas, garnishes, drinks, desserts, and more. With over 600 varieties, you might be surprised by some of the flavors available — e.g., chocolate mint. As mentioned earlier, mint tends to spread out and take up space. For this reason, many gardeners like to grow mint in a pot or container.
Whether it’s curly or flat-leafed, parsley is an easy-growing, nutritious herb loaded with iron and vitamins A, C, and K. They make an excellent garnish for autumn salads and Thanksgiving appetizers like deviled eggs. You can harvest your parsley once the stems have three segments.
Chives, which come from the same family as onions, pack a ton of flavor that goes well with creamy soups, potatoes, and salads. Also, chives attract beneficial insects like bees and repel pests such as aphids, making them an excellent companion herb. Make sure to keep these plants in fertile, well-drained soil.
Sage, with its silvery green leaves, is an attractive addition to any fall garden since it’s a key ingredient of a Thanksgiving favorite — turkey stuffing. While sage can be grown in beds, it’s an excellent container plant since it grows best in well-drained soil and full sun.
It’s hard to overlook lavender if you’re growing an ornamental garden. Lavender can come in various hues, including purple, blue, white, and pink, giving your garden a striking pop of color. This herb also boasts a strong yet calming aroma. Keep lavender in well-drained soil under full sun.
Rosemary is a shrub that not only adds zest to Mediterranean and Italian dishes but also fills the air with a strong fragrance you’ll love to smell. This herb is also drought-tolerant, making it an excellent choice for arid regions. Rosemary grows best in well-drained, sandy soil in a sunny spot.
Taking Care of Your Herb Garden
Once you have an idea of what type of garden you want and the herbs you’d like to grow, it’s time to set up your garden and take care of it. Here’s how you do it:
Pick Your Space
It doesn’t matter if you own a house with a large backyard or live in a small apartment with a balcony. Herbs can grow and thrive just about anywhere as long as they get at least six hours of sunshine daily. It’s okay if your only growing spots are a little shady. Certain herbs such as parsley and cilantro do well in partial shade. Read the plant tag for light requirements if you’re unsure.
Ultimately, put your herb garden where you can see it, so you can check if your plants need watering. A popular spot to place your herbs is near the kitchen. That way, you can quickly grab what you need to make a delicious meal.
Choose Your Growing Style
Growing herbs directly into the ground is always an excellent choice, as long as you have space, soil, and sunny conditions in your backyard. It’s okay if you don’t. Raised bed gardens make a great alternative because you have control over the soil. Plus, rabbits and other pests are less likely to invade your herbs due to the garden’s tall walls.
If space is limited, consider growing a container garden. There are tons of ideas for containers, from ceramic pots to wooden boxes to hanging baskets. Keep in mind that container size does matter. For most herbs, a 14-inch diameter container with potting soil should work fine.
Plant Your Herbs
Check the plant tags to determine how much space to leave between each herb to ensure proper growth and airflow. Remember that certain herbs like mint and lemon balm need their own container, so they don’t intrude on other plants.
Once you’ve determined the spacing, dig a hole the same depth as the herb’s original container. Take extra soil and fill in around the plant. Add enough soil until it’s up to the exact level as the herb’s original container. Lightly pat down the soil, then water it well.
Tend and Harvest Regularly
Check daily to see if your herbs need watering. Herbs in containers like to dry out more than in-ground herbs or raised beds. To keep your herbs growing strong, consider feeding them liquid plant food weekly.
Herbs grow thicker and bushier with frequent harvesting. When they’re ready, take off the top two or three inches. If you’re unsure how much to pinch back, don’t exceed one-third of the plant.
Make sure to dry your herbs if you’re not going to use them right away. Air-drying and oven-drying are the two most common methods. Air-drying takes longer, but you’ll end up with a purer, cleaner flavor. On the other hand, drying herbs in the oven is much quicker, but you have to be careful not to burn them. Once you decide which method is best for you, store your dried herbs in airtight containers.
Herbs are an excellent gateway into the world of gardening. You can grow them nearly anywhere, and they usually take about a month to develop fully. If you need guidance along the way, an associate at your local garden center can provide suggestions specific to your region.
What are you going to grow in your fall herb garden? Let us know in the comments below!