Monday, June 1, 2015

Grow Your Own Culinary Herb Garden – Yard to Table

I mentioned several times during this ‘how to plant your own culinary herb garden’ video that I’d give a lot more specific information on the blog, but now that I’m here, I realize there’s not much more to tell you.

Herbs are very easy to grow, and besides basil, which doesn't like to dry out, they only require occasional watering. Any well-drained soil will work, but your best bet is to grab a bag of ready-to-use planting mix. Feel free to double check with the person at the nursery, but it’s basically potting soil with benefits. And, I did say nursery. Drive the extra mile, and talk to people that just sell plants.

I consider these herbs must-haves, but there are many more varieties you can try. I’ve done things like tarragon and cilantro in the past, and while they are a little more temperamental, they can be successfully cultivated.

Nothing beats being able to go out into the garden, and just take a pinch of this and a pinch of that. When you consider the cost of one of these plants is just a little more than for a single bunch at the market, why not have a few pots around, even if they’re on the windowsill? I hope you plant your garden soon. Enjoy!

NOTE: I’m not a gardening expert, so asking me specific question about soil types and weather issues will result in many a guess. My advice would be to use this video as an inspiration, and then check out some local gardening websites.

19 comments:

Kia Dufun said...

Great information on this video! I did plant some oregano earlier and it makes all the difference in the world to have it fresh instead of dry. Thank you so much for the inspiration and how to cut these since I'm always wondering about that!

Berit said...

Thanks for this video! I get that you're saying "Don't hound me; go to your local garden center." , but I have a quick food-plant question.

I have a large cast-iron urn/planter I recently bought. It's been painted black, but about 5% is flaking off/showing a bit of rust. ( I was thinking I'd freshen the paint next year.)

Question: is this iron/possible rust environment bad (taste or health) to use for cultivating culinary herbs? OR I noticed you using all terra cotta planters; is this coincidence or design? Any tips on planters? (Yours are visually lovely, btw.)

karl j. seely said...

I recently saw a bunch of fresh herbs at the nursery and though, "there's no way, not with my brown thumbs." But you make it look so easy, I think I'll give it a try! Thanks for all the wonderful videos and blog entries!

Chef John said...

Berit, sorry I cannot answer your question about the rust! I doubt that would cause a problem, but that's just a guess. I use clay because I like the look.

Mang said...

Google DIY pots for planting, and off you go! You can pretty much grow in anything that holds soil it looks like.

Nicki said...

"Italian in the front; Greek in the back" A-HEM! ;)

Anyway - if you'll be planting into a bed garden in-ground, keep in mind that mints are invasive plants that like to take over. Plant mint in a larger, plastic pot right into the soil. The larger pot will give it room to grow while preventing it from spreading throughout your garden.

cookinmom said...

Iron is good!!! Helps soil and you!!

Bryan Soto said...

That was an absolutely fantastic video Chef John. I've been wanting to grow my own herb garden for quite some time and you just inspired me to make it happen.

Aaron said...

Thanks, Chef!

Can we get an update in a month or two to see the progress on your herb garden, please?

Darcy Thomas said...

Chef John I have said it before and I will say it again. I am sure we were twins in a past life. Whatever I am doing I turn to your post and you, too, are doing it. Love the video. So, so helpful and informative - basic information I have searched for but been unable to find elsewhere. Thank you.

Joel Bidnick said...

As an huge fan of your blog and a horticulture grad student, I love this post.

@Berit: The rust will not harm the plants. Eventually, the iron will become bioavailable as nutrients. But don't use the urn if it ever contained oil, lead, etc.

Toshiko Suisei said...

I so agree Chef John! It's a good feeling to be able to walk out the patio door and just clip the herbs you need for a recipe. They're all so easy to grow.

January Black said...

That's it, I am inspired!! Thanks for the great info, I am headed out to my local nursery today.

Jeff said...

I have a few pointers. Some herbs require much more sun than others. Basil loves full sun and can become leggy (pinch pinch pinch after 3 sets of true leaves have appeared) if it is kept in shade. Cilantro is tricky because it will bolt if it is left in full sun, thus depriving one of its delicious leaves. There is more... much more.

I used to have a container garden. Depending on your individual climate (view USDA gardening zones -- I live in zone 8) certain herbs will grow much better than others. Soil structure can also have a very strong affect on plants' growth habits. Rosemary and oregano love sandy soil and hot weather. I have a friend here in zone 8 who has a rosemary plant that is 5 feet tall and very bushy. Also, rosemary, unlike many other herbs --excluding lavender-- , is evergreen and will survive frosts (not sure about heavy frosts). For greatest success (not every one has a "green thumb". Apparently you are one of the lucky ones, Chef John), I would recommend spending a little bit of time doing some research about how to best care for whichever herbs you wish to grow.

My main purpose in writing this was to send a message to those who cannot easily/conveniently access a location that receives direct sunlight for long periods of time. I have learned that mint and chives grow very well in partial shade (especially mint -- it's a weed that can be as tenacious as cockroaches! I would not recommend growing it in a garden or even near a garden). Anyhow, I have a small balcony that does not receive much sunlight. I am growing spearmint in a container this year with great success. There are other shade tolerant herbs, but mint and chives are the only ones I am aware of that have serious culinary applications (although some say that parsley does well in partial shade -- I have no experience with that one yet).

Two more points. 1. Do NOT fertilize herbs. You do not want them to grow too fast, it will affect their flavor and the concentrations of essential oils in their leaves. Try to find a potting soil that has lots of organic material in it and avoid soils (certain "gro" soils come to mind) that contain fertilizer. 2. It should be obvious that one should never use pesticides of any sort on edible leaves. For fungal diseases and some insect pests, there are natural, non-toxic remedies that can easily be found online.

Kay Brown said...

I love this!!! Thank you big time.....no pun intended. LOL

rancholyn said...

You are in an inspiration....I live in the Palm Springs area...Plenty of year round sun shine but HOT HOT in summer. I still think I may start my own herb garden...thanks

G.M. Tim said...

Hi Chef John, love the video. I have a small indoor herb garden of my own that I keep near a window and supplement witha grow light in a hurricane lamp nearby. I just wanted to make a point about mint that another commenter already touched on. Mint is incredibly invasive and difficult to kill without herbicide. Never, EVER, co-mingle it with other plants, in the ground or in a pot, it will simply choke them out and take over. Leave mint in its own little pot.

Matthew Stevens said...

just so all ya know, mint is very invasive, like a weed. just always be planted in its own container.

Susan Cormier said...

Chef John, I just planted a balcony container garden a few weeks ago after watching this video. This is the first time I have ever tried gardening. I picked some fresh basil tonight for my sausage and peppers and tomato sauce (San Marzano, thank you) recipe, and I could not stop smelling my fingers - TMI, i'm sure, but they smelled so heavenly and basil-y. Thank you.