Herbs are great for cooking and crafting, but they also make for a beautiful garden, adding color and texture, and attracting pollinators. (Joan Morris/Staff)
Herbs are great for cooking and crafting, but they also make for a beautiful garden, adding color and texture, and attracting pollinators.

Rose Loveall, owner of Morningsun Herb Farm in Vacaville, doesn’t know why everyone doesn’t have an herb garden.

While her bias might be noticeable, her point is a good one. Many herbs are easy to grow, they add wonderful flavors and aromas to your food and home, and provide shape and color to your garden. They also attract pollinators.

Here are Loveall’s tips for starting and maintaining an herbal garden.

  • Garden preparation is key, Loveall says. Most herbs require excellent drainage, and after five years of drought, most of us have gotten a little lax on bed prep. As a result, perennial herbs were in for a shock when the temperatures started to warm up.
  • Don’t skimp on the compost, Loveall says. You’ll need to work in 3 to 6 inches of compost into new beds and existing ones.
  • Next, cover the beds with mulch to help moderate soil temperatures.
  • Look at how you’re watering. All herbs need to be watered deeply and infrequently, although the amount of water and how often will depend on the needs of the plant. But by watering deeply, you force the roots to go deep, which makes for a healthier, more drought resistant plant. When planting new herbs you’ll water a little bit more until the plant is established.
  • Planting on mounds is also beneficial to most herbs, Loveall says. Mounding helps direct water away from the stem and prevents root rot.
  • Most herbs can be grown in the spring and summer, several can be grown year round and others only like particular seasons. Cilantro and dill, for example, like cooler temperatures and don’t do well in the late spring and summer.

Must haves herbs

Here is a list of herbs that, if you only have room for one type of herb, you’ll want these in your garden.

  • Genovese and ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ basil. Genovese is a very popular culinary basil, while ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ is a new variety. It is a non-blooming annual that keeps on giving. “The goal of most basils is to grow, have babies and die. Our goal is the grow basil, make pesto, grow more basil, make more pesto.” ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ will provide you with pesto through November.
  • French thyme and lemon thyme. Many people grow thyme, Loveall says, but most don’t use it. However, lemon thyme is great for summer cooking and French thyme is also a great culinary herb. Start using it, Loveall says, and you’ll find all sorts of uses for it. If you’re trying to cut down on salt, use thyme as a substitute.
  • Golden Rain rosemary has green and yellow foliage, and grows to about 2 feet. It’s a great plant for attracting pollinators.
  • Chives. If you have a brown thumb, plant some chives and see that brown turn to green. Chives…