Start your Own Herb Garden

By Victoria Gabrielle Bravo, University of Arizona ISPP dietetic intern


Starting an herb garden in your own home is easier than once thought. Having fresh herbs to use will greatly improve the health and taste of all dishes. Using fresh herbs is a great way to add flavor to your cooking at home, but there are also many health benefits. Using fresh herbs usually helps with cutting down on sodium intake. Excessive sodium intake can be dangerous to your health, even if you do not have cardiovascular disease. Too much sodium, or salt, can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, and other chronic diseases. By replacing salt with fresh herbs, you are reducing your risk. By simply using herbs to season dishes, you are adding various nutrients to your food as well. Herbs are a great source of vitamins A, C, E, and K. Many herbs also act as antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.

Follow these steps to create an herb garden:

  1. Choose a space near your kitchen.
  2. Prepare the space by loosening the soil.
  3. Dig holes as appropriate to each herb.
  4. Label herbs.
  5. Plant flowering plants (zinnias are a great flowering plant)
  6. Water as indicated by the individual herb.


Herb Spacing Light preference Soil conditions Germination Time to harvest
Basil 12”-18” Full sun Rich, moist, well drained 5-10 days 10 weeks
Cilantro 4”-12” Full sun, light shade Well-drained 7-10 days 3-4 weeks
Oregano 12” Full sun Well-drained 7-14 days 11-13 weeks
Parsley 12”-18” Part shade Rich, moist 14-30 days 10-11 weeks
Rosemary 18”-36” Full sun Light, well drained 14-21 days 11-14 weeks
Tarragon 18” Sun, part shade Well-drained 10-14 days 11 weeks
Thyme 6”-8” Sun, part shade Well-drained 14-21 days 13-14 weeks.


Herb Nutrients When to use
Basil Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium Cheese, salads, vegetables
Cilantro Phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin K Salads, salsas
Oregano Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium Italian dishes, cheese
Parsley Antioxidants, anti-inflammatories Fish, vegetables, poultry, salads, soup
Rosemary Vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium Beef, soup, bread
Tarragon Manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, zinc (helpful as an antioxidant) Fish, poultry, salads, soup, vegetables
Thyme Vitamin A Fish, cheese, vegetables


For more fun and interesting articles check out the Fill Your Plate blog, where new articles are posted every week.

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