5 Herbs You Should Plant This Spring!

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Spring is the perfect time to start planting. Even for those of you with limited space such as a bright window sill or small balcony, an herb garden is a great way to get your feet wet (or hands dirty). Whether you’re a new grower or a seasoned one, there are a range of hardy herbs that can supply you with flavor, beautiful scents, and medicinal benefits. Bees also love herbs and their flowers, so at a time when bee populations are suffering, what better way to entice them than making your garden a friendly place to visit? Another bonus is that for those of you with tomatoes and other pest-prone plants, herbs can act as a natural insect repellent. So, here’s 5 herbs to get you started, followed by some resources to help beginner gardeners with basics.

1- Basil

Basil is a lovely herb with great flavor for cooking. It is also rich in flavonoids which have cell-protective qualities, is an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and great source of Vitamin A. Basil likes full sun, warm weather, and slightly moist soil. It’s best planted from seed mid-April to mid-May, or as a transplant (little seedling) early in June (once the soil is warm but not too hot). Once the mature leaves start to show, just clip some off and add it to your next meal!

2- Oregano

We use oregano in so many dishes, so it’s a handy herb to have around. It is also rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants, used to treat reproductive, respiratory, digestive, and skin issues.  It is also renowned for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (hence the boom in Oregano oil at health shops). Oregano can grow quite large so you want to keep a couple of hand-widths between each plant and prune regularily once its growing so it doesn’t take things over! Oregano likes full sun and warmer weather, so this might be better to add a bit later in spring. It doesn’t like the soil to be too wet, so water as soon as the top couple of inches of soil feel dry, and make sure it’s in a pot with really good drainage (actually, let’s just make this a general rule for all the herbs).

3- Thyme

Fragrant and a staple part of the Mediterranean diet, thyme also has a long history of medicinal use for treating respiratory ailments. It is also known to be great for the brain (memory and cognition), has antioxidant, immune boosting, and disinfectant properties, and is packed with vitamins and minerals. The scent of thyme will make sitting in your garden or on your balcony a soothing and mood-enhancing experience. It likes dry sunny weather, but otherwise is not fussy, making it a great starter herb. Just prune now and again, harvest, and make sure to avoid soggy soil and overly humid conditions. Also, because it is slightly more prone to pests, pair it up with one of the other herbs on the list so they can complement each other and keep critters away.

4- Lavender

Lavender is a beautiful addition to any garden. It smells and looks amazing, and has powerful effects on the nervous system, acting as both a relaxant (lowering heart rate and blood pressure) and anti-depressant. It can be used in teas (it helps with bloating and indigestion), and an addition to sautéed vegetables and meats. When dried and put in sachets or bowls, its also a wonderful way to keep closets and areas of the home smelling fresh and floral. Lavender likes full sun and well-drained soil, and should be planted about 1.5 to 2 hand-widths apart. Make sure not to over-water, and if the weather is humid, sprinkle some sand around the base of each plant to support faster evaporation.

5- Rosemary

Rosemary is a pretty, potent, and romantic plant. Its powerful medicinal properties boost immunity and memory, soothe indigestion, and support healthy circulation. With a lovely scent and many culinary uses, it’s a great plant to have accessible. Rosemary loves warm climates and can grow impressively to a few feet in height. You’ll want to plant a couple of hand widths apart, letting soil be quite moist when watered, but allowing it to dry out until the next soaking. The great thing about rosemary is that it’s an evergreen, so even though it’s slow growing, you can pop the pot indoors through the winter, and have it all year round.

We hope we’ve wet your appetite! Make sure to let us know how your herb garden turns out in the comments, and feel free to share pictures and any tools and tips you pick up along the way! Also, for the newbie gardeners out there, be sure to check out this amazing resource for detailed information on the basic tools and products (such as soil, compost, fertilizer and seeds) you’ll want to begin this process. Happy planting!

The Beginner’s Guide to a Balcony Herb Garden (Part 1): Planting

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