Herbs have much virtue. Some hold medicinal properties, others add zest and flavor to foods and some combine the two. There’s little not to like about herbs.

A majority of the useful herbs are perennial. They live from one year to the next, often growing in size individually and corporately. Some, if not restrained, will sprawl and go out-of-bounds. That’s about the only thing not to like about some herbs.

Herbs rank among the easiest of garden plants to care for. They require water, sun and well-tilled soil. A few can even make do in less-than-perfect soil, but they always do best in loose soil.

For increased medicinal and even taste properties, do not fertilize herbs. But if you require a showier, grander plant or plants, then go ahead and feed them.

Classic herbalism

Much of today’s herbal lore reflects upon what early British writers wrote. Some is valid today, some not at all relevant. Modern herbalists cite legions of medicinal uses for herbs and many, use Chinese and other herbs that the average gardener has never heard of, with names that few can properly pronounce. That’s all well and good, but for the gardener who just wants to have a few herbs around, a less complicated approach works better.

If you plan on incorporating herbs into your garden plan, here are some suggestions as to how to go about it.

First, take some time to select which herbs you would like to have growing in your garden. How can you do that without first growing them and finding out for yourself? Easy. Just go to the supermarket and buy fresh, packaged herbs. The popularity of herbs has grown to a point that they are offered in most supermarkets just the same as other garden vegetables.

So, if you have thought about a certain herb but have never tried it, here’s your chance to do it without devoting garden space, and time, to growing it. If after you try it you find that you like it, then order some seeds or wait until spring and buy seedlings and then plant them. And if you find it not to your liking, well, don’t bother with it.

The other option is a bit more hands-on, but still it allows you to sample various herbs without devoting precious garden space to them. I’m speaking of the various hydroponic, indoor-growing kits, many of which are specially designed for herbs. I have a countertop unit and while I have mostly used it as a source of fresh lettuce, I am contemplating growing some herbs that I wouldn’t normally grow outside in my garden.

These, after setting up and planting, require only regular watering and fertilizing. Other than that, all you need to do is to monitor the built-in light and raise it as your plants grow higher.

I’ll admit that some herbs appeal to me simply because they smell so good. Rosemary and lavender rank among this list. I simply love squeezing and sniffing these herbs. Others may grow them for supposed medicinal benefits, some may grow them for use in recipes, but I enjoy them mostly because of their near-cloying aroma.

So, if you have had any thoughts at all of growing herbs, why not make 2023 the year to begin? I guarantee, there are some special herbs out there just for you.

Tom Seymour, of Frankfort, is a homeowner, gardener, forager, naturalist, registered Maine Guide, amateur astronomer, magazine and newspaper columnist, and book author.