Developing a Culinary Herb Garden

June 1, 2015

Growing herbs is a fun way to add a little flair to your garden and create some great tastes for your favorite dishes.  Herbs do have an air of mystery about them but they are as simple as growing flowers and do not require the attention that vegetables need.  Like all plants, different herbs require varying amounts of sun, moisture, and of course being at such a high elevation with a unique climate also affects herbs differently.


The first thing you need to know is that the majority of herbs require very good drainage.  To ensure that good drainage is achieved, a raised bed is recommended.  The next important step to growing herbs is the soil; the ideal soil is one with ordinary garden soil mixed with a top quality topsoil and organic material. This will ensure that the nutrients are released to feed the plants, and enough moisture is retained as well. While most herbs prefer a lot of sunlight, many will grow in partial shade, and others even favor shade.


You can start growing most herbs from seeds, but plants are available as well.  Depending on the herb, it can take anywhere from 5 days to a month to germinate.  The most important thing in determining which herbs you would like to grow is your own taste, and then take into account which of these herbs can flourish with your home and garden.  Here is a short list of some popular annual and perennial herbs that grow in the high country.  Good Luck with your herbs!


Anise- Full sun.  Grows to 1’ to 2’ with lounging, limber branches, somewhat resembling Queen Anne’s lace.  The seeds can be used in confections, and leaves chopped for salads and sauces.


Dill- Full sun.  Moderately frost hardy; can be harvested anytime once established.  Delicious with cheeses, soups, salads, eggs, sauces, and fish.


Coriander/Cilantro-  Full sun to light shade.  Coriander is the seed, and Cilantro is the leaf.  Grows to about 1’ tall with upright white flowers. Popular in Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Spanish, and Central African cuisines.


Catnip- Full sun to light shade.  Gray-green leaves with white flowers.  Has been used in salads and teas.  Does have some medicinal uses. Most often used in cat toys.


Chives- Full sun.  Grows to 1.5’ with long slender dark green leaves and small lavender flowers that are also edible.  Has a sweet, mild onion flavor and is popular in almost all types of cooking.


Horseradish-Full sun.  Grows to a height of 2-3’ with large coarse leaves.  Harvested for the root; which is long white and excellent for seasoning.


Thyme- Full sun.  Small, many branched fragrant shrub that can reach a height of 1’, and  has pink, white, or lavender flowers.  This herb is famous in French cuisine, being used in meat dishes, breads, soups, and many more.  Also very nice in a sachet!

Sage- Full sun.  Grows up to 2’ with grayish green leaves and purple or blue blossoms.  Can be used fresh or dried in a variety of dishes, and also has ornamental and aromatic uses.

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