5 Easy Steps to Creating a Herb Garden Habitat!
Quarantine has made me, and I think a lot of others, really focus on making my home a place I want to be. A place I enjoy spending my time, and hopefully so much that I don't really wanting to leave it. My happy place! For me, that includes nature and gardening, so what can be better than a corner herb garden that includes a wildlife habitat!
Currently, in July, my garden is producing mint, rosemary, lemon theme, and hummingbird mint. The hummingbird mint is buzzing with activity from not only the hummingbirds but also the bees and butterflies too! I have a small Titmouse nesting in the ivy that grows along the side of the wall behind the herb garden. Toads and lizards live among the planters, plants, and vines, taking care of all those pesky pests. Earthworms are working the soil underneath the planter boxes, pales, and even an old cooler. It really is a habitat that takes care of its self! Not only is making a herb garden totally easy, but all I do is an occasional watering, weed pulling, and good ole cleaning out once a year!
How can you start your own easy herb garden? Let's go through this in 5 easy steps:
Choosing your herbs. I personly started with the herbs I wanted to use for cooking. Then looked for herbs that would be good for pollinators. I also have a mixture of annuals and perennial herbs. Some annuals, if your container (pot) is big enough, will reseed every year, acting like a perennial. Most perennial herbs will die back in the fall/winter and send new shoots up in the spring. I've had my rosemary bushes for four years now, I have upgraded them to large pots, to where they are now in desperate need of being planted in the ground. So, starting with a list of herbs you want to grow will help you determine the next step!
First, start collecting containers for your herbs. Why containers? Herbs tend to be over barring when they become well established, so by putting them in containers, you can control their natural tendency to take over garden spaces. Think about the size and life expectancy of your chosen herbs. Some will be tall, some short, some annuals, & some perennial. Pick a size and style that will fit each herb.
Any type of container will do as long as it has a hole for drainage, or you can drill holes to allow the water to drain properly. In my garden, I have an old cooler (which already had a drainage hole), an antique washtub (had to drill holes), clearance metal tubs from Walmart (which I also had to drill holes in), and some larger planters that hold my rosemary bushes. I have used wooden boxes and baskets before, but they do rot after a while, so keep that in mind.
Get a good soil mixture of 1/2 compost & 1/2 potting mix. I find I don't have to refill my containers with soil, I just add nature utilizers like rabbit pellets or worm casting tea. The only time I have to add soil is when I "Up-Pot," move a perennial herb to a larger container.
Stair stepping or Interplanting is a technique used to get the most growth/production out of your space! In this case, because you are planting in containers, you will be stair-stepping the containers, while using the size of your plants wisely. To really get a visual for this, what the YouTube video link here:
Tall plants will go in the back, medium height in the middle, shorter herbs in the front. If one herb needs more shade, place it in the shadow of a taller herb. Stagger your widths, so you have a variety of sizes throughout the garden. You may also want to stagger your textures, to add more visual interest and beauty. Because you have placed your herbs in containers, it will make it easier to move them around to find the right arrangement. I don't know about y'all, but I'm am notorious for arranging and rearranging areas, even in my house!
This also naturally creates habitat space, which is Step 5!
Because you have already introduced several varieties of herbs that include a variety of sizes, textures, and smells, you've also naturally started to create a small wildlife habitat. You have created a stair step of layers that will benefit many critters!
Lizards, toads, treefrogs, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds will all be attracted to your new garden, and that is a wonderful thing! If your garden is sterile and void of wildlife, no matter how small, you are asking for plant trouble! Wildlife is your friend; they help to pollinate your garden, stop bad pests, and help your soil.
If you would like to push your habitat even further, you can add the following:
Bug houses: Birdhouses:
A water source for birds or butterflies: Toad/Frog houses on the ground:
In 5 easy steps you've created a beautiful garden that will not only support you in your health, but also the local wildlife!
I hope you have a wonderful adventure as you plan out your herb garden habitat! The best thing about it is you are helping yourself become more self-reliant, while helping nature!