This a tricky one considering anything relate to herbs is still considered illegal in this country unless it is for medicinal reasons. The times we live in have witnessed a rise in the consumption of the herb in various forms, smoking it, baking it, frying it in food… The reasons for the rise in the herb consumption are not clear, but most analysts are crediting the YOLO attitude of the current generation. So, why would one grow their own garden to begin with? It could be a hobby thing, or maybe one just wants to get a pure product as opposed to some of the contaminated varieties that have crept into the market. Don’t know if this is worth the risk of getting caught and arres…
Editor: Uhm, boss, what on earth are you writing about?
Me: Creating a herb garden, duh!
Editor: Not that kind of herb you dimwit!
Me: Oh…OHH! You meant the other herbs, like traditional herbs for medicine and what not?
Right, sorry about that mix-up people. Something got lost in instruction there. Sooo, a garden of herbs, the legal type, how does one go about setting up one of those? Before anyone else gets any wrong ideas, we are talking about the herbs that are described in the dictionary as, “A plant lacking a permanent woody stem; many are flowering garden plants or potherbs; some having medicinal properties; some are pests or aromatic potherb used in cookery for its savoury qualities.” By this definition, what I was mistakenly talking about up there still fits the description so for clarity, the key word in all this will be ‘legal’
With that cleared up, let me start from the beginning again. Why should you get a herb garden anyway? To quote Liz Kamugisha, a friend who has one, ‘Because it’s delightful to feel like some herbal tea, and just be able to go outside, and pick what you need whenever you want. It’s like having a free endless supply. Also, herbs have a lot of healing properties when used in teas or cooking which I’m still learning a lot about. Proper use of herbs can really be preventative medicine!’ Herbs are also commonly used to spice food and give it that extra something that will take it from band land to food heaven territory. So if you consider yourself a foodie (the type that experiments and cooks their own food, not the type that goes to restaurants just to act entitled and look for reasons to complain), why not take it to the next level and grow some of your own spices. It also makes for a very engaging hobby. The act of growing something, taking care of it and watching it blossom till you can uproot and eat it is a very satisfying one. It’s as close to parenting as one can get. Major difference is with actual parenting, you don’t get to kill off what you have grown.
You have your reasons now, so the next step would be to address the logistics of this pet project. How much space can you dedicate to this project? Do I have the time or are my herbs going to wilt and die while I dedicate my time to climbing the corporate ladder? What kind of herbs am I going to grow? According to the feedback from people who have gardens and a little googling, the most common herbs grown by people are Mint, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Basil, Chives, Coriander, Dill and Fennel Rosemary, Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Savory and Cilantro. Seeing as I don’t have my own garden yet, this all sounds like to gibberish to me. We will, therefore, use this as a test where those that are genuinely interested in doing this will go and do the necessary research while the eyes of the pretenders will just glaze over. Majority of those listed from what I gathered are mainly used for cooking purposes. Of course, you can choose to think outside the box and grow some non-traditional ones like Lemon Balm, Marigolds, Catnip and Citronella which repel mosquitoes and other unwanted bugs.
Ideally, you don’t need that much space for a herb garden, which makes it a great farming practice for those that do not have that much land to work with. A small 2×2 metres piece of should be sufficient to start with. If you have more land then go ahead and do a bigger one. The beauty of herbs is they are quite easy to grow. The main thing necessary to grow herbs is to put them in the right place with a little sunshine, soil that drains well, some watering, and a little fertilizer or compost. In the absence of land or a compound to grow your herbs in, for example, if you live on the 5th floor of a 7 story apartment block, you can get creative and use plant pots, or even plastic bottles/kaveras to create a hanging garden. This should be even more fun and I can guarantee you it will make for intriguing photos on Instagram and other social media where you can show off your gardening skills. If you are to use this method, keep in mind that some plants grow quite large (4-6 feet), and when placed in pots they can become stunted so try and use bigger containers.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and kick off that herb gardening project, and don’t forget to invite us and our appetites over when you are preparing some delicious meals using the fruits of your labour.