Herbs For Health: How To Start Your Own Container Herb Garden

seven kinds of potted garden herbs with wooden name tags

Think it’s too late to start a garden? Think again. Container herb gardens can be started anytime and provide you with year-round health benefits. Here are some ideas on how to bring an herb garden into your life.

Herbs And Health

The broad definition of an herb is any plant that is considered useful in some way to humans—and useful they are! Herbs have been used throughout recorded human history to offer a myriad of health benefits; from the anti-inflammatory properties of lavender, to the immune boosting compounds in parsley and echinacea.

An article by Jeff Csatari and Nikki Werner offers a short list of herbs and associated health benefits:

  • Rosemary: Remedy for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and hangovers
  • Sage: Relieves a sore throat
  • Thyme: Antioxidant and antiseptic properties
  • Mint: Sooths stomach cramps, nausea, and flatulence
  • Basil: Pain relief (when rubbed on temples for a headache or added to a footbath)
  • Garlic: Antibiotic, stimulates immune system, lowers blood pressure

Growing Herbs In Containers

If you are ready to bring these benefits into your life and spice up your cooking while you’re at it, container herb gardening is a great place to start. Not only does it work in a small space, but also reduces (or eliminates) damage from pests like deer and rodents.

In addition, you can garden year-round by bringing your plants indoors when the temperature drops in the winter. A few important things to keep in mind for your container garden include:

  • Use good quality organic potting soil: Most herbs don’t have high nutrient requirements, thus a standard potting mix will suffice. It is helpful to line the bottom of the pot with pebbles to encourage good drainage.
  • Buy plants or grow your own from seed: Herbs like basil and chives are easy to grow from seed, so buy a packet and try it at home if you are inclined. But let the experts at a local nursery grow your lavender and rosemary; these are notoriously difficult to start from seed. Potted herbs are often available year-round at garden centers, and even some supermarkets.
  • The best herbs for growing indoors are: Basil, bay, chervil, chives, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme.
  • Provide ample sunlight: If your containers are outside on a deck or patio, place them in an area where they will receive the most sunlight. Indoors, place your pots in a sunroom or in front of south-facing windows. If you have a lot of sunlight in your kitchen, consider setting a few small pots of herbs nearby where you will use them for cooking.
  • Water as needed: Provide enough water to keep your plants from drying out, but don’t let their roots stay moist all the time or they may rot. Plants in containers will need more frequent watering than those in the ground.
  • Start small: If you’re new to using herbs or to gardening in general, try to incorporate one or two of your favorites into your life to see how you like it. If you enjoy Italian cooking, for example, you may start with basil and oregano plants. If you love the soothing scent of lavender, try a pot of this herb in a place where you will see (and smell) it daily. Above all else, enjoy your herb gardening and you’ll gain the most important health benefit: happiness!

Other Resources:

There are a wealth of resources online ready to help you in your herb garden process; including information on healthy, organic living, where to find gardening tools and sample herb recipes or other concoctions you can easily make at home. Think green, and enjoy!