Grow an Herb Garden!

Herbs are plants that are grown for the special flavor and aroma of their various parts. They are used mainly to season, enrich, or otherwise improve the taste or smell of certain foods. Since they are not classified as vegetables. Since their growth habits and cultural requirements are similar, herbs are often included with vegetables in the garden.herb garden escambia.ifas.ufl

One of the best ways to enjoy year round gardening is to plant an herb garden. Herbs are easy to grow, they require very little care, and they don’t take up much room. Even if you don’t have a large backyard, you can still grow herbs successfully. A small garden bed, a window box, or even a few clay pots, can provide you with fresh, aromatic herbs year round. Herbs are rapid growers and they have a wide variety of uses in the home. They can be used either fresh or dried and when dried they’ll keep for long periods of time.

Herbs are fairly easy to grow. A good garden soil that’s free of weeds and close to a water supply will keep your herbs healthy and growing rapidly. If you can, plant herbs on a narrow strip of land, preferably at the border of your vegetable garden. This will keep your herbs easy to reach. If you scatter them across a wide garden plot, you’ll end up having to walk over the plants to reach and gather them unless you can provide some pathways within your garden. Of course, if you’re growing herbs in window boxes or clay pots, this won’t be a problem.

Dill is probably the easiest and the hardiest herb you can grow. It’s usually planted in late fall and early winter because of its ability to withstand cool temperatures. It may also be planted in the spring. Dill isn’t particularly fussy about its soil so any all-purpose soil that’s suitable for your regular garden vegetables is fine for dill. Another plus is that dill is rarely bothered by any diseases or insects. Fresh dill leaves add excellent flavor to salads and cream sauces, and as a dried herb, dill is well known for the distinct flavor it gives to pickles.

Another popular herb enjoyed by gardeners is sweet basil. This herb is an annual, and it can be replanted in the same area year after year. Basil is also used both fresh and dried. It is widely used as a flavoring for soups, meats and fish. One word of caution: don’t over plant this one. A few basil plants will usually provide more leaves and flowers than an entire family can use in a year.

A few plants, such as sage, balm, and rosemary can be propagated best by cutting. Stems from new growth or the upper parts of older stem make the best cutting for easiest rooting. Cut the stem into 3 to 4 inch pieces each containing a set of leaves or leaf buds near the upper end. To prevent wilting place the cutting in water as soon as they are removed from the plant. A shallow box filled with 4 to 5 inches of a mixture of clean sand, peat, and perlite makes a good root bed. Insert the cutting to a depth of one half-to two thirds their length in the moist mixture; then saturate the mix with water. Place the box in a protected place and keep moist (but not sopping wet) continuously until roots develop in about two weeks. Continue to water until the cuttings are ready to set out in pots or in the garden.

Such plants as thyme, winter savory and marjoram can be propagated by simple layering, which consist of covering the lower portion of the side branches with soil, leaving much of the top of the plant exposed. When the covered part of the stem have rooted, they can be cut from the parent plant and set as individual plants.

Older plants of chive, rosemary and tarragon can be multiplied by dividing the crown clumps into separate parts. These divisions can be set as individual plants.

Mint spreads rapidly by means of surface or underground runners that may grow several feet from the parent plant. The runners, with roots attached, can be removed and transplanted to other locations

Obviously, the list of herbs which grow very well in Florida is quite lengthy, so we won’t be able to go into all of them here. If you can keep in mind just a few points about herb gardens, maybe you can enjoy the virtues of some of these herbs yourself. Remember that herbs are generally very easy to grow and can be adapted to either outdoor garden or indoor container growing conditions. For just a small amount of effort, growing herbs can provide you with year-round gardening satisfaction.

For more information see UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions.



Posted: May 12, 2015

Category: Horticulture
Tags: Basil, Chive, Dill, Edible Landscape, General Gardening, Herb Gardening, Herbs, Marjoram, Mint, Panhandle Gardening, Rosemary, Tarragon, Vegetable Gardening, Winter Savory


Samantha Kennedy

May 22, 2020

Merry, I never use salt when cooking rice and prefer to add a little bit of butter instead of olive oil because I like the taste butter imparts. However, neither olive oil nor butter are necessary for cooking rice. Another great way to cook rice is by using chicken broth instead of water. The finished rice has a delicious chicken flavor that can boost the overall richness of the final product. As for short- and medium-grain vs. long-grain rice, they are not created equal. You will generally not get the same results from short- or medium-grain rice as you will from long-grain rice, especially if a recipe specifically calls for long-grain rice. Long-grain rice, when cooked, is dry and loose, whereas short- and medium-grain rice is sticky and clumps together. For fried rice, long-grain is best. Short-grain rice is great for rice pudding and sushi, whereas medium-grain rice is best used for dishes such as risotto. Samantha Kennedy, M.S. Family and Consumer Sciences Agent UF/IFAS Extension Wakulla County

Merry Pearl
May 21, 2020

This is quite helpful. Being in self isolation quite a distance from home, I inevitably needed a culinary companion. This site has been the guide I so much needed. Cooking rice is the combination of art and science. I sometimes see chefs sprinkling salt and olive oil when preparing rice, what’s your take on this? And would you get the same results if you used short or medium grain variety?

Renee Perry
August 19, 2016

Thanks for writing about organic gardening. More and more gardeners are turning to it, but there are still more to convince. I want to correct the notion that organic gardens require lots of work, particularly weeding. I practice a form of organic gardening that uses heavy mulches to suppress weeds. Mulches also protect the soil from burning up under our hot subtropical sun, promote beneficial microbial activity, and add organic matter to the soil when they eventually break down. This results in an average of about 5 minutes a month spent weeding a 1500 square foot garden. I'm guessing it takes quite a bit longer than that to spray poisonous herbicides over the same area. I've been using this method for over 17 years with wonderful results and would never go back to bare earth gardening.

Matthew Orwat
July 18, 2016

I am not familiar with nurseries in Okaloosa County, but you should try calling the extension office located at 3098 Airport Road Crestview, FL 32539 Phone: (850) 689-5850 or email the horticulture agent Larry Williams

Glen Pratt
July 17, 2016

Where can I find a kumquat tree in Okaloosa County?

Ray Bodrey

June 29, 2016

Hi Donna. For better results, zoysiagrass require frequent fertilization. Periodic soil testing should be conducted every 2 to 3 years as the basis for applications of lime and fertilization. Your local county extension office can help with your soil testing needs. Soil test results will help determine management measures, such as to maintain the proper soil pH between the desired range of 6.0 to 6.5 and keep the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium levels at recommended levels. For minimum maintenance, it is recommended to apply between 2 to 3 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of zoysiagrass lawn per year in north Florida. To accomplish this, apply a complete fertilizer such as 16-4-8, 13-13-13, or10-10-10 at least three times a year in April, June, and August.

June 22, 2016

So what months should zoysia be fertilized and with what type fertilizer? I put it my small backyard a couple years ago.

Ann Poppy
May 1, 2016

Two green thumbs up! Old-timers here in Pensacola say you can pinch back azaleas 'til the Fourth of July and still get a good bloom; this works well for me. (They also say you should plant your potatoes and fertilize your rose bushes on Valentine's Day and that you can pinch back your poinsettias until Labor Day. This also works well for me as far as the rose bushes and poinsettias go. I haven't tried potatoes yet, but maybe I'll try planting some on Valentine's Day, 2017.)

Lectii Apicultura
March 20, 2016

Very well written article, and easy to follow

Mary Derrick
June 10, 2015

We know all about plants, but not about the law. You may want to consult a lawyer or state agency that deals with these issues. Good luck!

May 31, 2015

Can the HOA's stop you from having a small garden? There is nothing in the Master Documents that address this issue in particular.

May 28, 2015

Ants are also amazing. They aerate the soil, help with decomposition and waste removal, plant seeds, and are food for many birds and other animals. I'm all for getting rid of the invasive fire ants but I'd discourage people from killing the other ants in their yards.

August 20, 2014

Thanks for the timely article. One of the things I dislike about vacations is that I have to leave my plants unattended. I think the points you raised were just perfect. As to houseplants, I would only add that there are self-watering systems one can use as well. They’re better than nothing if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time. Richard

August 1, 2014

Hello Roy, My wife and I have been raising bees for about a year. As novice beekeepers we are seeking natural methods instead of the chemical practices you mentioned in the article to ensure a healthy hive in the spring. We are open to any suggestions you may have. Thank you in advance for your help. Brett

c. orchard
May 24, 2014

Great article but you did not mention soil Ph. I have quite a few daylilies but their foliage is slightly yellow. I have used a good fertilizer but wonder if the Ph is not right. Thanks for any information you can provide. Carolyn

loupa pius
November 8, 2013

am really happy for the services you offer to, to me am a student studying apiculture in uganda, am more interested in knowing how robbing occurs within on colony. thanks to you

Matthew Orwat
November 6, 2013

William, thanks for your question. This is a common issue, since many folks apply fertilizer to centipede grass late in the year to green it up. Doing this does little or nothing for greening up the lawn and can actually harm the grass by encouraging growth when it is entering its dormant period. This can also encourage late season root rots. As a general rule, I would recommend the last application of fertilizer to Centipede and St. Augustine in mid September. Absolutely no ferteilzer should be applied after September 31st. For more information, take a look at this publication on Centipedegrass from UF IFAS Extension. Hope this helps, Matt

William Dockery
November 5, 2013

Mr. Carter- i work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and need to know when the best time to apply fall fertilizer to St. Augustine and Centipede grass; I learned in an earlier artical about the right time to apply lawn fertilizer for the spring is after the soil has warmed up...but didn't see anything mentioned about fall/winter applications. Your response is greatly appreciated. Thank you, William Doc Dockery

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