Gardening has been found to have a therapeutic effect on mental health and emotional wellbeing. The process of planting, nurturing and growing plants can be a meaningful activity that is a source of enjoyment and stress relief.
Spring has just arrived, so what better time to create your own herb garden!
Growing herbs is an excellent way to not only add some flavour to your meals and save some money but also to positively impact your wellbeing!
Here are some tips for getting started with your own herb garden:
- Find the right location
Find a space with lots of sunlight, at least 6-8 hrs per day, preferably outside or on a windowsill. Most herbs prefer sunny positions, but some herbs such as chives and thyme can cope with semi-shaded positions.
- Select your herbs
Herbs are healthiest when they are trimmed regularly so start with your favourite herbs that you use the most in your cooking. Trim leaves typically from the top with scissors or just pinch them off. Don’t trim more than a third of the plant.
- Select your pots and soil
Ensure the pot you intend to plant your herbs in has adequate drainage, so the herbs don’t become water clogged. Use a herb potting mix.
- Plant your herbs
Try not to over crowd your herb garden, each herb needs space. Herbs that like the same conditions can be planted together. For example, herbs that like damp soil such as coriander, basil, parsley and tarragon and Mediterranean herbs that prefer dry conditions such as oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage and marjoram grow well in the same pot. Mint tends to spread very quickly, so consider planting mint in a separate pot.
- Care for your herbs
Caring for your herbs depends on the type of herb you have planted. Here are some tips for caring for a few popular herbs:
Basil is an easy herb to grow and does well in pots. Place basil in a sunny, protected position, such as on a windowsill. During summer, place in some shade.
Plant basil in a potting mix tailored for herbs. Water when the soil feels dry. Plant basil in a pot with adequate drainage as it will not tolerate wet, heavy soil.
Italian flat leaf parsley
Italian flat leaf parsley should be planted in full sun and needs to be watered regularly, especially during hot weather.
Oregano grows well in a sunny position in dryer soil that is well drained. Allow time for the soil to completely dry before watering again.
Thyme is a very low maintenance herb to grow. Thyme is not fussy about soil and water. Only water when the soil is dry to touch or in its initial stages of growing. Once established, thyme is drought-tolerant.
Chives are considered one of the easiest herbs to grow. Plant in organic potting mix suitable for herbs either in full sun, part shade or indoors. While it will tolerate short dry periods, it is best to water regularly. In summer, water once or twice a week, ensuring soil is completely dry before watering.
Mint prefers well-drained soil in light shade where the roots remain moist but not water-clogged. Water when soil feels dry to the touch. Mint is invasive as it tends to spread, so it is best kept in it’s own pot.
For more information on growing herbs and tutorials on designing your herb garden, visit the Bunnings website.
Berger, R. (2004). Therapeutic aspects of nature therapy. Therapy through the Arts—the Journal of the Israeli Association of Creative and Expressive Therapies, 3 (2), 60–69.
Clatworthy, J., Hinds, J., & Camic, P. M. (2013). Gardening as a mental health intervention: A review. Mental Health Review Journal, 18 (4), 214–225. doi:10.1108/MHRJ-02- 2013-0007
Gonzalez, M. T., Hartig, T., Patil, G. G., Martinsen, E. W., & Kirkevold, M. (2011). A prospective study of existential issues in therapeutic horticulture for clinical depression. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 32 (1), 73–81. doi:10.3109/01612840.2010.528168
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