Culinary Herb Gardens

A Southern California garden center's shopping cart filled with herbs for culinary herb gardens.

Written by David S.

Culinary herb gardens make excellent extensions for indoor and outdoor cooking areas. Most are container gardens, though an in-ground herb garden is also beautiful. The key to growing an herb garden is to make them practical. That can mean a couple of things, and inside we go through how to set up an herb garden and how to make them functional. Just keep reading! 

Making a Herb Garden Practical 
The practicality of herbs is that they are handy and easy to use. For home gardeners, this means placing the garden near the kitchen and then filling it with the herbs you use. Keep in mind that not every kind of herb you use may grow in your yard. Some will need specialized, growing environments. You can talk with our garden experts about how to grow specialized herb, like saffron.

Your goals for keeping an herb garden practical are:

1. Keep it close to the kitchen

2. Grow what you use or herbs that you cannot find at the local market. 

Setting up a Herb Garden 
Generally, there are two kinds of herbs – those that have soft stems and those that have woody stems. Oregano is a herb that has a soft stem, while rosemary is a herb that has a woody stem. Those differences are significant because of soil requirements. Soft stemmed herbs grow well in most types of soil so long as the soil drains well. Woody-stemmed herbs need sandy soil that stays dry. There should be some organic matter to hold water, but for the most part, the soil should be dryer than it is wet. What that means is that you may have to have two types of garden soil to grow a mix of herbs successfully. 

FoxFarms Ocean Forest Potting Soil is ideal for soft-stemmed herbs. You can mix the FoxFarm Big and Chunky Perlite with their Ocean and Forest potting soil to construct an excellent soil for woody-stemmed herbs too. The perlite holds water but is so porous that extra water drains away. 

Container Types for Herbs 
Most grow in small containers, but a beautiful adaptation is to mix herbs in containers. A larger trough-type container will easily hold enough herbs to satisfy most home-chefs. For those of you who love to grill, a separate herb garden for woody-stemmed herbs can be wonderful. Rosemary, cut into small branches and tossed on the coals, will give an excellent smokey taste to foods on the grill. You would want to grow enough to cover you during the grilling season. 

In fact, for those who love to grill food, a broad mix of herbs is handy. Consider planting:

  • Garden Sage
  • Oregano – there are many varieties with subtle differences. 
    Thyme – lovely both as a tea and as a cooking herb. For summer treats, use the dry leaves to make tea and then freeze it in an ice cube tray for summer iced teas that are refreshing. Store extra frozen cubes in a zip bag in the freezer. 
  • Marjoram – pairs well with most foods, especially for fowl. 
  • Tarragon – always plant in a pot as it grows like a weed. Tarragon is a wonderful herb for salad dressings and seafood. Toss a small amount in with a filet and then wrap in foil and grill. 
  • Garlic – Every serious home chef needs a lot of garlic. There are many varieties of garlic, and it is recommended to grow a few types. 
  • Onions – There are many types of onions from green onions and scallions to sweet yellow onions and tangy hot reds. Grow what you love, and try a few varieties.
  • Basil – Many types of basil available, but grow the ones you need. Some are very potent, while others like sweet basil are a kitchen staple. 

The list of herbs you can grow is almost endless. It is also fun to try new herbs and experiment with their usage. Herbs go well in food from cooked foods to things like potato salad or salad dressing. For the most part, herbs are easy to grow. They need regular watering and good soil though some grow best in weak soil. You can talk to our garden experts about herbs you want to grow. They will answer your questions and point to you the products that help make your herb garden a success.

An excellent tip to get into herbs is to read a few recipes of foods you love. A good example would be making your own marinara sauce or how to create rubs for meats. Herbs are very much a gateway to becoming passionate about cooking food. Learn more by stopping by one the Green Thumb Nursery Southern California locations.

We encourage you to stop in and browse the vast selection of herbs available and to chat with our garden experts. If you are shopping for a unique herb or product, keep in mind that our plant and products change daily. We may be out of stock, but you can call ahead and check. We are always happy to check for you or answer your questions. 


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