Have you thought about growing some herbs close to your kitchen so you can snip a few leaves for your favorite dish? They’re fragrant, flavorful and fun to grow! Start with basil, rosemary, thyme and parsley in containers on your windowsill or back patio.
Here’s how to get started:
If you’re a beginner to the gardening game, plants rather than seeds may be the way to go. You can find them in the nearby Home Depot, Lowes or neighborhood Mesa nursery. Make sure it’s the right time to plant before you buy. In Arizona, that means fall (September through mid-November) or early spring (mid-February through March). Seeds, however, have their own special benefits. They’re less expensive and young children (as well as adults) enjoy watching seeds sprout and grow.
Herbs are from the Mediterranean and need seven to eight hours of sun each day. In the southwest, some afternoon shade in the summer is best. Plant in a south-facing location and use planting mix, which is a mix made from organic matter such as peat and will provide the drainage herbs need. Make sure it’s labeled for use on edible plants.
A simple window box that is 12 inches deep with drainage holes should do the trick. Or, pretty containers can be set on a rack or in hanging baskets. Gardeners have come up with tons of creative, beautiful ways to grow herbs, so find what looks most appealing for your location, whether it’s homemade or store-bought. You can plant more than one type of herb in a pot, just be sure they are compatible. Flowers can be added to the pots as well, and in fact, many flowers are edible, such as marigolds and pansies. It’s also better to combine compatible plants in one large pot than to plant in individual containers.
Water frequently but don’t keep soaked. Stick your finger in the soil and if it’s dry an inch below the surface, it’s time to water. Water needs vary a bit for each plant. Rosemary likes a drier environment, while basil does well with a bit more water. Overwatering, though, can affect the flavor and scent.
A&P Nursery in the East Valley has herb plants for sale: http://www.apnursery.com/mesa-herb-garden.htm
If you want to share ideas with other local gardeners, visit the Mesa Urban Garden at http://mesaurbangarden.org/
Interested in more tips for East Valley living or new homes in the growing Mesa Gateway, Arizona corridor? Sign up at http://cadenceaz.com/contact/