Easy-to-grow herb gardens

A variety of herbs grow at the Tradition Market & Garden. Courtesy of the Tradition Market & Garden
A variety of herbs grow at the Tradition Market & Garden. Courtesy of the Tradition Market & Garden

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

Herbs flourish everywhere — gardens, kitchens and baths.

Back in the 1960s, Simon & Garfunkel sang about parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Today, the list of herbs found in gardens would fill up the whole song, and the duo never would have made it to “Scarborough Fair.”

“We’ve seen a huge interest in people wanting to grow herbs over the last couple of years, and even more so since the pandemic,” says Matt Bowman, owner of Tradition Market & Garden on Briarcliff Road. “They’re definitely easier to grow than vegetables. Tomatoes require a lot of TLC. With herbs, just make sure they have sufficient sun and water, and they’ll do their own thing. It’s definitely the easy way to get into gardening.”

There are several ways to grow herbs — in pots, in the ground, in water, and even on your wall. Obviously, the most traditional way is the garden.

Sun and Soil

According to Bowman, herbs can grow in regular dirt, but it’s preferable to add planting soil. “They love sun, and they need good drainage. It’s the same if you put them in planters. As a rule of thumb, they need at least five to six hours of sun.”

JadeTree’s Garden & Gifts in Roswell holds occasional herb gardening classes to meet the growing interest. Owner Jade Terreberry agrees that herbs will grow just about anywhere but consideration should be given to garden placement. “Just like plants, some prefer a sunnier location, others shade. Some can spread and take over. You have to be pretty disciplined about cutting them back, or they will get out of control.” Among the most invasive herbs are oregano, mint, catnip, chamomile, parsley and chives.

A variety of herbs grow at JadeTree’s Garden & Gifts. Courtesy of JadeTree’s Garden & Gifts.
A variety of herbs grow at JadeTree’s Garden & Gifts. Courtesy of JadeTree’s Garden & Gifts.

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

She suggests not only a regular trim but planting them at the garden’s border to control the growth and protect other plants from deer. Yes, some herbs also are deer repellents. Lavender, yarrow, bee balm, Russian sage and rosemary not only will make a garden bed colorful and aromatic but will prompt deer to turn around and brunch elsewhere.

Growing herbs in planters or garden beds is popular and easy. “Especially great on the porch are rosemary and oregano; they’re no brainers,” says Bowman. “They smell so nice, especially after a rain. Some scents, like lavender, are stress relievers, so they’re great to have on the porch.”

Herbs used in cooking, such as basil, oregano, rosemary and parsley, are perfect for pots or porch beds. “Sage is another great herb that’s perfect for roasting vegetables,” says Bowman. “It’s pretty hard to screw up.”

JadeTree’s Garden & Gifts offers a variety of herbs in its Roswell shop. Courtesy of JadeTree’s Garden & Gifts.
JadeTree’s Garden & Gifts offers a variety of herbs in its Roswell shop. Courtesy of JadeTree’s Garden & Gifts.

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

Terreberry suggests growing mint inside or on the porch for use in beverages, teas, lemonades and the adult kind. “Mints are so versatile and really easy to grow,” she says. Cilantro and thyme prefer being in the ground, so they may not thrive indoors. “The key is consistency,” she says. “Herbs will adjust to conditions as long as they’re consistent.”

Chef Jennifer Hill Booker, owner of Your Resident Gourmet, suggests starting with rosemary, basil and mint. “Rosemary’s a winner for everyone, but it will take over your yard. Basil is lovely. You can pinch the leaves off all season, and it’ll grow back. It’s great to start cooking with it in the spring. Same with mint.”

Booker grows tarragon, cilantro, thyme, chocolate basil and lavender, among others. She has less luck with chives. “They just come up in little threads and flop over.”

Chef Jennifer Hill Booker grows and uses a variety of herbs, especially tarragon, in her Southern-French recipes. 
Courtesy of Kate Blohm
Chef Jennifer Hill Booker grows and uses a variety of herbs, especially tarragon, in her Southern-French recipes. Courtesy of Kate Blohm

Credit: Kate Blohm

Credit: Kate Blohm

Katherine Fitzgerald and her husband, Hudson, run the Rising Son, a Southern-oriented restaurant in Avondale Estates. Behind their house are four herb beds, everything from the more common to rarer ones such as hyssop. She advises buying organic herbs for cooking as a start. “You want to get a handle on the herbs and how they grow. Some are super easy, such as oregano, mints and rosemary. Lavender is harder. Then, as you grow your garden, get into more exotic herbs. You’ll make a connection and will want to learn more about different herbs.”

Water Herbs

Of course, some don’t want to play in the dirt. No problem. West Atlanta’s Atlantis Hydroponics sells equipment to grow herbs indoors with water and lights. It also has wall hangings where herbs can be planted and used as garden art.

Hydroponics involves growing plants on a nutrient-water solution without soil. Because the roots are directly fed, there’s no competition for root space, which results in more plants per square foot than in soil. They grow faster because they get nutrients in the proper proportions and are not weather dependent.

“We have the perfect system. With the Kratky method, you don’t need pumps or electricity. Nothing can go wrong,” says Sean Hayes, store manager. “This system is perfect for high-rises or anyone who wants fresh herbs on the countertop.”

Although the store also sells hydroponics systems that involve pumps, lights and fertilizers, the Kratky method is passive. Put the seedling into a container that sits atop a tank filled with distilled water and a nutrient solution, as the water level drops, the roots grow, creating an “air zone” for the roots.

Another way to grow herbs is on the wall. Atlantis Hydroponics sells fabric wall planters, which are banners with plastic-lined pockets to plant herbs. The six-site Viagrow® wall planter sells for $9.99; 12 plants: $12.99.

Lettuce and mint grow in water. 
Courtesy of Atlantis Hydroponics.
Lettuce and mint grow in water. Courtesy of Atlantis Hydroponics.

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

Multiple uses

Perhaps more so than ever, herbs are the stars in the culinary, beverage and healing worlds. “Herbs can cure so many ailments, headaches, bloating, nausea. The list goes on,” Fitzgerald says. Others put herbs such as lavender in bath water for relaxation or in homemade candles.

Booker also uses herbs for her health. “Parsley is a really good blood purifier, and it also helps with digestion and lowering blood pressure. Same with mint.”

But herbs really shine in the kitchen.

It’s easy to grow herbs from seeds and then replant them. 
Courtesy of JadeTree’s Garden & Gifts.
It’s easy to grow herbs from seeds and then replant them. Courtesy of JadeTree’s Garden & Gifts.

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

“You can have a bland soup, salad or dish, and you add fresh herbs, and it boosts the flavor, aroma and texture,” Booker says. She uses herbs, especially tarragon, often in her Southern-French cooking. “The licorice taste cuts the richness of a lot of ingredients. Parsley has a very subtle taste, but it adds the right amount of color and texture to any dish. I put cilantro in everything — soups, beans, salads. I will add just about any herb to a green salad except rosemary. Of course, basil and oregano are the workhorses for sauces.”

Fitzgerald makes sodas with fresh herbs while her husband uses it in a variety of his recipes, including ice cream. “Just play with herbs; they’re really intriguing. Try growing cilantro, basils, mints and then put them in recipes.”

Booker adds mints and basil into fruit salads, smoothies, lemonades and adult drinks. “Come on,” she asks, “Who doesn’t love a lavender or basil martini?”

WHERE TO GO

Atlantis Hydroponics

10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sunday. 1422 Woodmont Lane, Atlanta. 404-367-0052, atlantishydroponics.com.

JadeTree’s Garden & Gifts

8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. 135 Nautica Way, Roswell. 843-222-5233, jadetreesgarden.com.

Tradition Market & Garden

9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Wednesday-Monday; Closed Tuesday. 2154 Briarcliff Road NE, Atlanta. 678-964-7066, traditionmarketandgarden.com.

Jennifer Hill Booker, chefjenniferhillbooker.com.

Rising Son

9 a.m.-3 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday. 124 N. Avondale Road, Avondale Estates. 404-600-5297, risingsonavondale.com.

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