Tips for a Successful Culinary Herb Garden


Culinary (or kitchen) herb gardens are extremely rewarding, plentiful, and useful ways to jump start your gardening journey. In an effort to encourage my community to grow herbs, I spent the summer sharing my latest book, Seasonal Living with Herbs, holding workshops where I help others create their own herb gardens, classes to learn about herbs, and even sold premade herb hanging baskets out of my home. One of the first things I ask my attendees is, "Why do you want to grow an herb garden?" Below are some fantastic reasons to grow herbs.


  • Know where your herbs came from, how they were grown, what type of soil was used, and if they’ve been sprayed with any chemicals.
  • Avoid unnecessary ingredients such as artificial preservatives.
  • Reduce waste and packaging.
  • Save you hundreds of dollars each season – just think of it… grocery store sells herbs by the half ounce for $3-6.
  • Cut down on transportation-related emissions.
  • Working with soil and plants have been proven to improve your overall health and wellbeing, altering imbalances of neurotransmitters in your brain such as serotonin, relieving stress and anxiousness, improving mood.
  • Peaceful activity that promotes relaxation.
  • Can give you a sense of fulfillment, self-esteem, and purpose when your heart needs it.

I mean, if I had it my way, everyone would have an herb garden.

A precautionary note before we begin: Herbs can have unforeseen side effects or interactions with other supplements or medications and any regular use should be discussed with your health care provider.

Here are a few tips when considering what container to use for your herb garden:

  1. Ensure the container is at least 12-18" deep to accommodate growing root systems that may grow down rather than outwars. 
  2. Check that your container has drainage holes. If it doesn't, drill them in or create a drainage system using a 2-3" layer of pebbles or small stones.
  3. If your drainage holes are large, cover them with sheeps wool (bits from your shearing), a coffee filters, or weed barrier to hold your soil in but still allow excess water to drain out and away from your herb's roots.


  • 4 parts organic soil
  • If soil doesn't have sand in it, 1 part sand
  • 4 parts peat-free organic compost
  • 1 part organic  coconut coir
  • 1 part biochar


  • basil
  • chive
  • cilantro
  • dill
  • fennel
  • lemon balm
  • mint
  • marjoram
  • nasturtium
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • thyme

Did you know that most herbs are drought tolerant and only need to be watered intermittently when soil around the base of the plant is dry one inch deep? It's true!

Below, I've listed a few quick tips for the herbs we work with during my herb workshops:


  • annual growing one to two feet tall
  • grow indoors or out
  • thrives in bright sunny areas (temperamental in temps below 50 degrees F)
  • harvest plant tips to encourage new
  • at end of season, pull and compost

precautionary note: Avoid using basil essential oils on children, or if pregnant or nursing, as it contains estragole CT and can risk safety of baby and mother.

Lemon Balm

  • perennial growing three feet tall
  • grow indoors or out
  • grows rapidly outdoors and spreads
  • can be divided every few years
  • harvest stems just six inches above base
  • at end of growing season, cut to ground

precautionary note: Lemon balm has been known to lower thyroid levels so refrain from using if you have thyroid disease.


  • vigorous perennial growing up to two feet tall; grows best outdoors
  • vigorous grower (spreads quickly); container is recommended
  • harvest stems often by cutting top four to six inches above a set of leaves
  • at end of growing season, cut to ground
  • consider growing mint in its own container, as it is a 

precautionary note: Peppermint essential oil should not be used during pregnancy, while nursing, or by those with GERD.


  • typically an annual, often self-seeds, can grow up to a foot tall; vine-like
  • trumpet-shaped flowers and lilypad leaves both edible; peppery flavor
  • harvest flowers as they begin to open; harvest vines and leaves anytime
  • at end of season, pull and compost



  • vigorous perennial grower up to 18 inches tall
  • grows indoors or out
  • harvest liberally and divide often
  • at end of season, cut to ground


  • biennial growing up to 18 inches tall, indoors or out
  • harvest ⅓ or less of plant regularly before it flowers/bolts + goes to seed
  • at end of season, treat as an annual, pull and compost (or leave for year two)


  • evergreen perennial growing from two to six feet tall depending on variety
  • grows well in sunshine and slightly acidic sandy soil (clay soil rots roots)
  • tip harvest only; never harvest woody parts of stem
  • at end of growing season, overwinter to a south-facing window 


  • low-growing perennial for indoors or out, does well in partial sun
  • harvest ⅓ or less of plant regularly
  • at end of growing season, do not cut back; let plant go dormant
  • do not plant near cucumber


  • low-growing evergreen perennial
  • trim the top four to six inches of stems, up to half of the plant
  • at end of growing season, do not cut back; let plant go dormant



  1. Regular watering is typically not necessary; only intermittently when soil is dry to touch around the base of the plant.
  2. Harvest in the morning after dew has dried off but before sun is directly overhead to retain the greatest amount of its beneficial properties and essential oils.

If you want to grow a garden, incorporate more herbs into your darling living, and live more mindfully, my newest book, Seasonal Living with Herbs, is the perfect companion for you!

I've created a list of my favorite gardening supplies and tools; the ones I use everyday in my garden and greenhouse. You can access my Garden Amazon List HERE. For heirloom quality gardening and foraging tools, I highly recommend the Barebones Living collection
Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. Cedar House Living LLC receives a small commission for sales generated through these links at no additional cost to you. I use the commissions to further expand my garden, floral, and herbal knowledge so I can continue to share what I learn with you. Thank you for using my affiliate links and supporting my small business in this way.

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