Learn to put down the salt and plant an herb garden instead!
As we age, we may need to reduce our intake of certain food additives, like salt. But this doesn’t mean our food has to lose its flavor, it just means adjusting the way we season our dishes, to ensure we’re eating a nutritious diet. A great way to do this is to experiment with new and different herb combinations, and growing your own herbs easily puts those options at your fingertips.
Growing your own herbs is easy; it requires little to no gardening experience and very little effort or maintenance. Herb gardens are simple to plant and care for, and they can be grown in a community garden, a small planter or even in a container on your windowsill.
How to plant an herb garden
- Choose your plants. Do you have a favorite herb? Are there any that you haven’t tried? Try planting a variety, keeping in mind what will grow best in your climate. Rosemary, chives, parsley, thyme, mint and sage all have long growing seasons, and smell and taste wonderful. (You can also dry them to extend their use!) Plants such as basil or lavender have a smaller growing window, but add great diversity to your food flavors. Think about growing edible flowers like Nasturtiums, which add a peppery kick and great orange color to salads.
- Pick the perfect location. Consider whether your herb garden is in an area that is easy to access, has good sunlight (ideally, 6 hours of sun each day), ample space to grow and adequate water drainage.
- Prepare your planter or garden bed. If using a container in your kitchen or on your patio, place some gravel in the bottom, then fill it with potting soil. Poke a hole into the soil with your fingers or a small shovel, then insert the seed and lightly cover it with soil. If it’s a seedling, have the base of the plant level with the ground and pack soil around the plant, removing any air pockets. Read the seed packs or seedling tags as well, since they often provide specific planting instructions.
- Water your new garden. Water as often as necessary to keep the soil evenly moist. Use your fingers to test the soil for dampness. It’s best to water in the morning so the soil will have time to dry by nightfall. If you live in a hotter climate, be sure to water and monitor your plants more carefully. In wetter climates such as the Pacific Northwest, herb gardens are easy to grow. Always reach out to your local nursery for growing, tending and harvesting advice!
Senior gardening tips
Setting up an herb garden can be a great group activity for seniors. At Holiday, many residents enjoy gardening together. Check out this handy graphic, which provides eight senior gardening tips, and get in touch with the Holiday community near you to learn about senior gardening opportunities.