Tag Archives: backyard garden

Growing & Saving Garden Herbs

Greetings faithful readers!  It’s October and I can’t remember the last time I wrote a post.  I always have high intentions at the beginning of the summer, then summer takes over, the garden gets out of hand and life just flies by (cause we are having so much fun)!

This past summer the garden did…OK.  Everything I planted grew, but the harvest was minimum and not very exciting.  However, my new herb garden did AMAZING!  At first I thought the herbs would never grow, but as soon as the summer heated up they were happy as can be!

Here are some tips & tricks that worked for us this year.  Hopefully you will be able to start enjoying your own herbs year round!

How to GROW Herbs:

We chose to plant in large planters from COSTCO, filled with organic potting soil.  In years past we purchased plants from a local nursery, but this year we started from seed.  I tried to start the seeds indoors, but they burned out when transplanted outside.  I replanted directly outdoors and viola!

Containers work best to control the herbs that are invasive, like mint, from taking over your entire garden.  Drill holes in the bottom of your planters to prevent drowning your plants during a hard rain.

Plant herbs with their companion herb to save space and encourage growth:

  • Parsley, Rosemary & Thyme
  • Basil & Oregano
  • Mint (always alone)
  • Lemon Balm & Lavendar
  • Dill

Make sure the herbs get plenty of sunshine, without the chance of being burned out.  I have found that putting herbs on a patio that gets direct sunlight will dry them out and kill them, try to find a full sun spot that also has a breeze passing through.  We put ours along the fence and that worked well.  Remember to water your planters often, but don’t drown them.


During the summer, we enjoyed picking fresh herbs for cooking, making tea, adding to animal feed , using herbs to freshen up animal pens and to keep flies away.

Now that the growing season is over, it’s time to save the remaining herbs to use for the rest of the year.

How to Save Herbs:

First, cut off bunches of each herb and tie together at the bottom.

Find a dry place indoors to hang the herbs upside down to dry. I hang ours from our pots & pans rack which hangs over our sink.

There are several ways to save your herbs once they are completely dry.  Remember to only save the leaves, not the stem or flowers.

  1. Grind the dried leaves with a Morter & Pestol.
  2. Grind the dried leaves in a food processor or coffee grinder.
  3. Save the herbs whole and grind when needed. (I like to save dill whole since most recipes call for a “sprig” of dill).

Lastly, pick out pretty jars, fill up with herbs, label and store!  Now it’s time to start making soups, stews and more (using your dried herbs or course)!


I hope you found this info helpful.  If you have any tips or tricks regarding herbs,  please share!

🙂 Mama Nice

3 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Garden

It’s that time of year again when we plan the garden, purchase seeds and get set up to start our seeds indoor.  Each year we reevaluate what worked in previous years and plan to try something new.  We ask ourselves 3 questions…


  1. What do we like to eat?
    • Green Beans might grow great in your backyard, but if you don’t like eating green beans after they have been frozen and preserved…don’t grow 10 plants worth (ask me how I know…no don’t).
  2. What does our summer and fall schedule look like?
    • The idea of 20 tomato plants might seem great, but keep in mind that making sauce and canning tomatoes takes time in the fall.  Think about the time you will have to commit to preserving your harvest.
    • Each plant will need different care when it comes to pest management, watering, weed control and harvest time.  Making sure we are home and able to care for the garden at various times is important to a successful harvest.
  3. How much room do we have in the freezer?
    • Many garden items can be frozen as an easier option to canning.  However, you need a freezer big enough to store it all.


Wondering what we make from our garden? Here is a list of what we grow and how we use them. Our garden isn’t huge, anyone with 1/8 acre or more could grow the same amount.

  1. Lettuce – fresh eating
  2. Kale & Spinach – fresh eating, freeze for smoothies & hot winter dishes
  3. Carrots – fresh and freeze
  4. Tomatoes – fresh, can as sauce, diced, ketchup or salsa, freeze as sauce
  5. Brussels Sprouts – fresh and freeze
  6. Broccoli – fresh and freeze
  7. Strawberries – fresh, freeze and can into jam
  8. Peppers – fresh, freeze, can in salsa and hot pepper jelly
  9. Raspberry & Blackberry – fresh, frozen and can into jam
  10. Corn – fresh and freeze
  11. Asparagus – fresh and freeze
  12. Grapes – we just started last year and hope to produce grapes this year – fresh, freeze, can in jam and grape juice.  Wine??? maybe…
  13. Apples – still in the beginning stages – fresh, can into applesauce and pie filling
  14. Sunflowers – decorations and treats for chickens
  15. Herbs – fresh and dried
  16. NEW THIS YEAR Snap Peas – fresh eating
  17. NEW THIS YEAR Pumpkins – fall decor, pumpkin seeds, and perhaps pie filling.


A NOTE ABOUT STARTING SEEDS INDOOR: We have tried to start various seeds indoors, but only tomatoes and peppers seem to be worth the time.  Most of the other plants we started indoors would die once they were outside (even after hardening off) and replanting seeds right into the ground was just as successful.  In fact, there have been years when we planted a transplant tomato right next to a direct seed plant and they both grew to be the same size at the same time.  If your soil is warm (which will likely happen this year in PA after the mild winter) your seeds will germinate quickly anyway.

We can’t wait for another year of fresh backyard produce!  What do you like to grow?

🙂 Mama Nice