Planning Your Herbal Tea Garden

No matter how large or how small your herbal tea garden will be, it's a good idea to have a general game plan before you start buying plants and seeds and sticking them in the dirt.

Otherwise, you might end up with a "surprise" like this ...

German Chamomile in blossomToo Many Chamomile Plants in a Too-Small Space. (Oops!)


Planning your tea garden isn't complicated at all. It's fun, it's easy, and it's a wonderful way to while away a chilly day, waiting for spring to arrive!


Ready to begin? Grab some paper, a pencil, a tape measure, and let's get to it!!

Finding Your Best herb-growing Spots

Go outside. Look around. Get to know your yard, patio, deck and other spaces from a plant's point of view.

Your herbs want a home that's:  

  • Relatively flat with good drainage - Herbs can handle less-than-perfect soil conditions. What they can't tolerate is standing water around their roots.

  • Sunny most of the day - For your herbs to thrive and have good, rich flavor, they'll need at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. A little afternoon shade is good, especially if you live in a tropical climate.

  • Near a fresh water supply - Do you really want to lug heavy buckets of water or a 50' length of hose every time your herbs need a drink? Make watering easy on yourself. Look for available growing spaces that are reasonably close to a water spigot.   


What if you have limited in-ground planting space?
Or none at all?

Not a problem! Most tea herbs will grow beautifully in containers on your patio, deck, or doorstep ...   

Chocolate mint growing in a planterPlanter Filled With Chocolate Mint On My Deck


Or in a window box ... 

Apple mint plantsApple Mint in My Kitchen Windowbox


Believe it or not, you can even grow your tea herbs on your driveway, sidewalk, or another "un-plantable" spot. Just grow 'em in a bale of straw.

Seriously ... in a straw bale!  It works like a charm!!

Herbs growing in a bale of strawThe Beginnings of My Straw Bale Mint Garden


If your space is limited, think creatively. You'll discover plenty of good places to grow your tea herbs, I'm sure!


Recommended Resource

Want to know more about Straw Bale Gardening? Learn from Joel Karsten, the man who invented the process. His book, Straw Bale Gardens Complete, is available on Amazon. 

Have a look at the book. Then give it a try!

Please Note:  If you use my link to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission from Amazon. There is no extra cost to you. Because I value your trust in my recommendations, I only recommend products that I use or would purchase for myself or my best friend.


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DRAw a simple site DIAGRAM

Yes, I said "draw".  But please, don't let any lack of artistic talent hold you back. You're not re-creating the Mona Lisa here. You'll simply make a very rough sketch showing the "basics":

  • your available spaces (with measurements):

  • the sun/shade conditions in those areas; and
     
  • where your fresh water sources are located. 
     

* Helpful Hint: If you don't have a tape measure handy, you can "walk off" the approximate measurements for each space.

Just walk and count. Each natural stride you take will equal about two and one-half feet.


To give you an idea of what your site diagram could look like, this is mine from 8 years ago.

Garden site plan sketch

As you can see, it's nothing fancy. It's not even drawn to scale.  I just quickly sketched out the bare-bones basics.  ;-)


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choosing which teas to grow

For first-timers, I usually suggest starting with familiar flavors.  Do you love chamomile tea at bedtime? Or spearmint tea for an afternoon pick-me-up? Grow what you already know and love!

Then choose one to two new flavors to experiment with.  (Hint: Stevia herb is a great choice for a no-calorie beverage sweetener!)

"Top 10" Favorite Tea Herbs

Anise Hyssop

Bee Balm

Lavender

Lemon Balm

Lemongrass

Lemon Verbena

Rose Hips

Stevia

flavor profiles

FruityMintySpicySweet
MintsXXXX
ChamomileX X
Lemon BalmXX X
Stevia X
Anise Hyssop X X
LemongrassX X
Rose HipsX XX
Bee Balm XX
Lavender X
Lemon VerbenaX X


Preferred LOCATIONS

GardenContainersFull SunPart SunMin. Space
MintsXXX12"
ChamomileXXXX12"
Lemon BalmXXX 12"
SteviaX X 24"+
Anise HyssopX X 18"+
LemongrassX X 24"+
Rose HipsX X 24"+
Bee BalmX XX24"+
LavenderXXX 18"
Lemon VerbenaXXX24"+

 

Reminder ...

While you're dreaming of all the teas you'll grow, be sure to give some thought to these two important details:

  • How much time do you have for gardening?  Growing your own teas is a fun adventure! Don't plant so many herbs that tending your garden becomes a chore. 

  • How much tea do you really need?  Why grow bushels of herbs that'll ultimately go to waste? Plan to grow only as much as you'll be able to use - and give as gifts - in a year.


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complete YOUR HERB GARDEN LAYOUt plan

Once you've decided what you'd like to plant and where they'll grow best in your space, then you can "flesh out" your garden layout plan.

Go back to your site sketch (you did make a site sketch, didn't you?!), and note:

  • the number of herb plants/seed packets you want to buy; and

  • where you'll plant each herb.

Voila! That's it!!

Simple plan for an herbal tea gardenMy Finished Garden Layout Plan

 

* Helpful Hint: When you're designing your herb garden layout, try to keep "like with like". 

Plan to grow water-loving herbs in one area, drought-tolerant herbs in another. That way, when you water the moisture lovers, you won't risk drowning the others.
 


No plan? no problem!

If growing season is already here and you haven't created a detailed garden plan ... that's okay. Many of us (yours truly, included!) started growing tea by what I fondly call the "wing it" method. And you know what? It worked out just fine.

So go ahead. Buy a few starter plants, and go for it!

With a bit of loving care, your herbs will reward you with yummy, homegrown herbal tea ... despite your lack of planning!

Lemongrass, lavender and mint plants in the gardenLemongrass, Mint & Lavender Tucked Into a Small Garden Bed


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