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It’s Always a Good Thyme for Herbs!

A row of potted herbs

by Sarah Dodd & Dawn Oldfield, Collin County Master Gardeners

Spring is the perfect time to plan on including herbs in your garden. Start by considering the herbs you frequently use in your cooking, and then think about which herbs will add texture, color, and fragrance to your garden. Whether you have a large lot or a small space you can have success growing herbs in raised beds and containers.  Not only are they relatively simple to grow, a variety of herbs such as basil, rosemary, chive, parsley, marjoram, sage, lavender and winter savory are the perfect touch to a kitchen garden. If you want to use your herbs for culinary purposes select and area in your garden that will get at least six hours of sunlight a day.

You can purchase seeds and plants online or from local nurseries. Seeds for easy-to-grow herbs like dill, cilantro, and basil can be sown directly into the soil. For herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, and lavender, it's best to purchase plants. If you're looking to grow mint or oregano, consider asking a fellow gardener for a start from their favorite plants to propagate.

Caring for Herbs

Throughout the growing season, herbs require some attention, including watering, weeding, and harvesting. Weeding can be time-consuming, but keeping your plants healthy is essential. Established herbs only require a little additional watering in the garden, except during periods of drought. However, overwatering can harm your plants, so be careful not to give them "wet feet."

Harvesting Herbs

You can harvest herbs throughout the growing season. For annual herbs grown for their leaves, such as basil, summer savory, and sweet marjoram, trim them back, leaving around six inches of stem and leaves. Next, cut the stem above a leaf or pair of leaves. Most leafy annual herbs do not survive frost or freezing, so if you expect frost, harvest as much of the plant as you want for preservation.

Prune leafy perennial herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano by removing one-third of the top growth at a time. Avoid heavy pruning after September, as this promotes new growth and keeps the plant growing. In the fall, plants that will overwinter need to start shutting down.

Fresh herbs are best, but you can also preserve them by drying or freezing them. Before preserving, wash the herbs to remove any dirt or debris. After harvest, there are multiple ways to dry herbs and store them for later use. The old-fashioned way is to put an herb bundle in a paper bag and hang it upside down in a warm, dry place indoors. The bag keeps both dust and sunlight away from the herbs.

Additional Resources:

We have your herb hookup and info:

Join CCMGA at Myers Park & Event Center for The Garden Show (March) and Spring Plant Sale (April) to purchase and learn more about herbs. Click here for more information on upcoming events. 
See the herb research garden at Myers Park, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

  • Southern Herb Growing, by Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay
  • The Encyclopedia of Herbs, by Deni Brown

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