Herbs are ideal plants for first-time gardeners. They’re easy to grow, and many of them tolerate a fair amount of neglect. Some of them will grow in sun or shade, and some of them, such as mint, will flourish more than you might want them to. (Catnip, chamomile, dill, feverfew and lemon balm — which is a mint — will probably re-appear in new places in your garden each year). Most can be planted right now — only basil needs to stay indoors until nighttime temperatures are reliably above 50 degrees.
In addition, they’re super healthy. Some of them have medicinal uses that were identified centuries ago — they may be calming or help you get to sleep or help settle an upset stomach. And when used to add zing to your cooking, they limit the need to use salt. Here are some places to get more information about their properties, uses and growing habits.
The Western Reserve Herb Society is an arm of the Herb Society of America, which happens to have its national headquarters right here in northeast Ohio, in Kirtland. The group designs, plants and maintains the herb garden on the grounds of the Cleveland Botanical Garden, which, alas, is currently closed. (Make a note to visit this beautiful space when they reopen.) Luckily herbs are hardy, low-maintenance plants so they shouldn’t suffer too much in the interim. WRHS’s annual Herb Fair at the Cleveland Botanical Garden is on hold for now, but their website is a treasure trove of information about growing and using herbs. Go here to learn more.
Also check out the Herb Society of America page, especially their “Herb of the Month” page, which offers facts and recipes for a new herb each month, with information available for all their picks dating back to 2013. This month’s herb of the month is sorrel, which we’re betting most of you don’t know much about, so learn something new!
Another great source of information, as well as the largest selection of herb plants for sale in the region, is the online catalog from the family-owned organic Mulberry Creek Herb Farm in Huron, which describes the properties and growing conditions for each of some 350 plants. They also have starter vegetable pots, succulents, a huge variety of fairy plants and accessories for fairy gardens, and garden supplies. They’re open for both browsing in their spacious retail greenhouse or curbside pickup Tuesday-Saturday @ 10am-5pm, and Sundays @ 1-5pm April-July, and encourage people to stop by for picnicking. See our photostream of our visit to Mulberry Creek!