Starting my garden last year with a bunch of plants I wasn’t sure how to grow wasn’t the easiest way to begin, in retrospect. And after a lot of learning over the past few months and money invested into the garden beds, soil, and other little things that go into a garden, I’m now having to say goodbye to all of it because I’ll be moving into a new house.
This time around I have a few modifications from lasts years’ setup. Unfortunately, I have a lot less time than last year, and I can’t commit to the investment I made before either. But I can’t stop gardening! It’s been such a fun way to de-stress, learn something new, and exercise (trust me, some days it feels like I did CrossFit), and the food I get at the end isn’t bad either.
But I am thinking of scaling back, temporarily of course. I figured since the only summer veggies I’ll have planted are tomatoes, and zucchini if I choose to plant them in June, I can save up through the cold season and have everything set up for next spring. Instead of the cheaper cedar beds I had set up last year, I want to put together some nice, sturdy, raised beds out of pavers that I can match to the actual paving around the garden beds. Pavers look nice, can be expanded to the rest of the garden for a more coherent look, and last pretty much forever! Thankfully, they’re also not that pricey, and I regret holding back on cost last year so I want to do things right this time. Which brings us back to herbs!
What can you plant when you have little time, little money, but a lot of passion for growing things? Herbs! My favorite thing about these 5 herbs is that they’re extremely low effort and will thrive even without human help. Out of the 5 on this list, I’ve planted the first 3, but I also want to learn more about the last 2 because they’re delicious and easy to grow.
There’s nothing more lovely than walking up a driveway in the summer and enjoying the scent of lavender in the air. Lavender is also widely loved by bees and one of the plants to grow in a pollinator friendly garden. Although not used in food as much as the rest of the herbs in this list, lavender makes a great addition to scented desserts, but it’s also useful beyond the kitchen, in oils, soaps, sprays, and anything in between.
Wherever we’ve lived, lavender has always thrived. They enjoy full sun and well-draining soil, with infrequent waterings. We’ve always planted them in a nice sunny spot and forgotten to water them, so the rain schedule works perfectly. The only mistake we always make is forgetting to prune them. Lavenders are actually shrubs, and if not pruned annually their stems eventually turn woody and become less aesthetically pleasing for a garden. I started transplants from cutting of our current plants that I plan on moving to the new house, where they’ll hopefully continue to thrive.
I’ve written about the horrors of uncontrolled mint before when I saw a plant at the community garden near me take over an entire allotment. Mint should pretty much always be planted in containers or you’ll probably end up having to raze it down at some point in order to reclaim the space. Given its propensity to spread, mint is hard to stop. At our old house, we made the mistake of planting in the ground and it grew without any watering, fertilizing, or pruning.
Mint is, of course, extremely versatile in the kitchen and in beauty and body products, and smells heavenly, but it’s also a great mosquito repellent which makes it a fantastic container choice for outdoor spaces where you’d like to enjoy an evening without being bitten to death by the tiny little bloodsuckers.
Rosemary, quite like lavender, will grow anywhere sunny, with good drainage, and little water. They’re the perfect example of a plant-and-forget-it herb that will yield fragrant and delicious leaves that go well with everything you want to cook, from soups to roasts, breads, and desserts. The pruning I gave our rosemary bush at the end of last summer yielded enough dried rosemary to last us the year, and I’m actually wondering what to do with the overgrowth right now because it’s almost getting out of control.
Rosemary is, however, notoriously difficult to begin from seed so skip the seed packet and plant a transplant from a trusted supplier or a friendly neighbor.
As far as I’m concerned, no Italian dish comes out of my kitchen without a pinch of oregano. It’s fragrant, delicious, AND amazingly easy to grow. Or so I’ve heard. I’ll be giving it my first try this season but oregano is known to be easy to grow so I’m not worried. It’s a perennial plant which I love because as much as I love annuals, I hate having to start everything all over again every season. It’s also a fantastic ground cover which I plan on using someday because I grow consistently more and more hateful of grass.
Like rosemary, thyme is difficult to grow from seeds, but pop a transplant in your garden and the effort will be worth it. It’s also a perennial shrub that’s great for ground covers and delicious in meat and vegetable dishes, and so versatile in the kitchen it’s one of the essential herbs in the traditional French bouquet garni. I confess, I never use the dried thyme in our kitchen enough, but growing it myself will be just enough motivation to start popping it in every dish.