Contain your herbs, not your excitement – here is an excellent guide to get you started on your herb-growing journey, all from the inside of your home.
Growing herbs is one of the easiest garden activities, especially for beginners. Why? Herbs are very tolerant of neglect. The fall season in Mississippi is perfect for growing herbs in containers. And if you don’t already have a herb garden, now’s the time to start one.
Here are some herbs I recommend starting with that are useful for a variety of cooking endeavors:
Basil. We love growing and using fresh aromatic basil from Genovese (perfect for Italian tomato dishes), Thai (spicy anise cinnamon flavors) and Amethyst varieties (a purple-leaf selection that is fantastic in homemade amethyst-color purple basil mojitos).
Dill. We make homemade pickles and use a lot of dill (the flowers add an upgraded flavor). Fresh dill is also a must-have for fresh fish dishes.
Parsley. It’s a perfect companion for the heirloom tomatoes we grow in abundance.
Thyme. Thyme has a subtle savory minty flavor and aroma. We use it in fish dishes, and I love minced thyme on my morning eggs for breakfast.
Soil. Use a high-quality container potting mix, as it will have great drainage. Don’t use top or regular soil.
Water. Watering is a little tricky. Many popular herbs like to be grown on the dry side, as this tends to concentrate the essential oils. Water thoroughly when the container mix feels dry.
Fertilizer. Be careful because too much fertilization will result in more plant growth and dilute the essential oils. The best tasting herbs are those that are grown a bit hungry, as I like to say. Use an organic formulation like Plant-tone sprinkled on top of the container mix.
Harvesting. Always harvest in the morning, as this is when the essential oils are at their highest concentration. The cut stems can be put in a glass of water until ready to enjoy.
If growing herbs from scratch sounds intimidating, that’s not a problem. There are plenty of herb transplants at your local independent garden center that you can use for a quick start.
About the author: Dr. Gary Bachman is an Extension/Research Professor at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center. Gary is also the host of the popular Southern Gardening newspaper, television, radio and social media franchise.