How to Grow your own Herbs (Successfully!)

It's spring in full swing here, and that means gardening season is officially open. Right now would be the time to really bustle around your plants if you want them to be in good shape for the new cycle.

But what if you have no idea what you're actually doing?

I get so, so many questions about this. Questions ranging from "how do I grow things" (which is on par with, I dunno, "how do I walk?") to... oh I don't even know. All sorts of them.
So here it is: 




The absolute basic Grow Your Own Herbs 101

(looking for more practical tips? Check out Part 2 of this post!)

Most kitchen witchcraft practitioners want to grow their own herbs, and that's also what I do, so that's what I'll be writing about, but most of this is applicable to basically any kind of plant.

1. Choose the plant to suit conditions (not the other way around)

Various plants need various conditions, because they grow naturally in various environments. But most of us can't easily change, say, the way the sun shines on our garden / windowsill. So the very first thing you need to do if you want to grow your own herbs successfully is to look at what you have, and check what can work with it. If you have a lot of sun and dry soil, rosemary will like you. If you only have shallow pots, though, thyme will be a better choice because it doesn't root deep. If you live in a basement and have no sun, the aromatic spicy ones won't really be happy. Choose wisely, it will pay off.

2. Don't be scared of specialised knowledge

There are many gardening sites available, and a lot of them are very daunting, with their insistence on super-pro equipment ("don't even leave house without your soil acidity measuring tool!") or labour-intensiveness ("dig up the whole bed three feet down and completely replace the whole soil with a mixture of horse manure and mulch"). Reading all that seems quite pointless, but among that stuff you will find important information. Heather really does need acidic soil and if you don't know that, then kiss it goodbye.

3. Don't overdo

Especially when your conditions are not ideal, you may be tempted to overdo things. "I don't have enough sun, so I will double the water, it's the least I can do!" - that's how I was when I started out with these things. It didn't end well.
Do what the plant needs, and let it try to cope with inevitable deficits in its own way. If you followed #1 and chose it well, it should do fine.

4. Remember that gardening is a messy, nitpicky job

People get discouraged because not many things in horticulture can just be done once and forgotten about. You have to keep on watering those plants, looking out for caterpillars, removing the dead stems and sick leaves.
You will also have to deal with the various ugly aspects of the job. Homemade, organic pest control really is organic, also when it comes to the smell.


5. Don't stress

Things are slow in the plant world, slow and strange. You may do everything right, and yet have no results, you may get impatient thrice already before anything happens with those seeds you planted. I've had some seeds that did nothing for two seasons and sprouted on the third spring. I had some cherished wild rose fruit that I transported from one end of the country to the other in a special box, just to grow the plant, and nothing doing. These things happen and you just take them in stride.

More practical tips in Part 2 of this post!