Weekend Projects

This Weekend Project Will Plant the Seed for a Flavorful (and Money Saving) Year Ahead

updated Jun 26, 2019
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(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

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I have a not-insignificant number of friends who, in the last decade or so, have tried their hand at raising chickens to enjoy the eggs. Aside from the freshness of farm-to-table food, the fact that it’s homegrown lends it an indefinable yet quietly thrilling quality to what might just be another breakfast.

This weekend we’re going to embark on our own small journey of urban (or suburban) personal farming. Don’t worry, we’re not going to set up coops. Instead, we’re going to plant our own little herb gardens so we can enjoy both that farm-fresh taste and the satisfaction that homegrown food offers, in everything from sheet pan dinners to salad dressings.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Devon Jarvis)

This Weekend: Plant an herb garden.

Growing herbs is not only fulfilling. It’s also decorative, will save you a good chunk of change, and is convenient—rather than buying pricey herbs for a recipe and then tossing the unused portion, you can snip just what you need and enjoy the plant until you need another round of fresh herbs.

Here’s how to make a productive foray into herb gardening, even if you’re not an experienced green thumb:

1. Decide what herbs you want to grow

Before you go to the gardening center, consider the types of meals you cook and the herbs you tend to buy most frequently. In order to get the most use out of your herb garden and to focus your efforts most efficiently, fill your herb garden with herbs you’ll love using. Some of the most common and versatile herbs include basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and parsley. See What Herbs Should I Plant In My Garden? for more inspiration.

2. Gather your supplies

Next it’s time to get your herb-planting ducks in a row. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A planter and/or pots suitable to the spot where your herb garden will live, whether that’s indoors or out. If you’re growing herbs that tend to take over, such as rosemary, oregano, or mint, consider separate smaller pots for each of these.
  • Potting soil, ideally something nutrient-rich and organic since you’ll be growing food.
  • Your plants. Most herbs are best grown from small plants rather than seeds. Herbs tend to grow quickly and therefore keep you in good supply, but if there’s one that you know you’ll consume a lot of, such as basil, consider getting more than one starter plant.

3. Plant your herbs

Plant your herbs in your planters. Make holes big enough for the loosened root balls of your plants to fit into, place your plants in them, and water gently.

4. Tips for Success

Make sure to read and follow the plant guidelines for each of the herb plants you purchase. Also practice pinching back any leggy stems to make them produce more edible leaves. This is especially relevant for making basil plants bushy.

What herbs will you grow this spring?

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You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.