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Grow Your Own Food: Herbs

Ron Finley

Lesson time 8:09 min

It’s inexpensive and easy to create your own herb garden. Ron shares which herbs are good for beginners, how to maintain a garden in a small space, and how to care for your herbs.

Ron Finley
Teaches Gardening
Community activist and self-taught gardener Ron Finley shows you how to garden in any space, nurture your plants, and grow your own food.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - Right now we're going to talk about herbs. I love to cook with herbs. And the thing about it is the flavor. And just standing here with the smell is kind of intoxicating. And the thing about herbs, like I said, these are perennials. They'll keep growing. I've had rosemary in my garden for the last 10 years the same plant. Even a sprig of this in water is a beautiful thing. But chicken, fish, all of this, that's why you need this in your garden. And the thing about this, it doesn't take a lot of space to grow herbs. I have a lot of friends in New York. And they always ask me, what can they grow on their fire escape or what can they grow on their windowsill. And I always tell them herbs because they don't take up that much space. And they're hardy. But, yes, you can't kill these if you try hard enough. But they don't really-- you don't have to do a lot to take care of herbs. What I like to do is have them in my kitchen, growing on a windowsill in my kitchen, so you can cut them right there when you need them. You don't have to go out to the garden. They're right there. And it's convenient. One of the reasons I like to grow these is because of what they cost in the store. The price is ridiculous what grocery stores get for these. And then they don't even last that long. They're like the price of gold when you think about it whereas when you grow it, all you might need is a couple of leaves of this rather than buying a six pack of leaves that cost you $6 in the grocery store. This is why I like to grow this because, to me, this is more economical than getting it from the store. When I go to the nursery to buy my herb starters, I try to look for everything on the plant is green there is not dry spots or dry leaves. This is some really, really healthy looking thyme. And I like to grow herbs from seedlings because it's easier since most herbs take a long time to mature from seeds. You want to hold it. You don't want to pull the roots of the plant. You want to squeeze it out and let it fall in your hand. And so we have a little friend in here. You want to open up the soil to basically to let the plant know that now it can grow because it was in the pot. And my analogy for that is it's like living in a box. If you live in a box, all your thoughts, all your life, you start shrinking because you can't expand. These things want to grow. And they want to expand. So this is the same thing as you think about your life and your brain. Here. As you can see, the roots are free. You don't want to go under where it was already planted in the ground. You don't want to plant above that. Like you wouldn't do this. And press it down. You don't have to do too hard. There you have it. Rosemary is probably one of the hardier varieties of herbs with sage because the stems are like bushes. So see what I'm doing here? You want to open the soil. And you can-- see, I'm just doing this with my hand because of how great the soil i...

Plant a revolution

When Ron Finley first grew a garden on a curbside dirt strip, he got cited—and then a warrant was issued for his arrest. He fought back, got the laws changed, and started a movement. Now the community activist and self-proclaimed “Gangster Gardener” is teaching you how to grow your own food, keep your plants alive, and find beauty and freedom in gardening no matter the size of your space. Start planting a revolution.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I loved this class!! A lot of the tips given have been so helpful as me and my husband have been trying to become better gardeners.

I've always wanted to learn how to grow my own food and feel a unique sense of peace. Ron Finley has inspired me in such a special way that has me excited to start the journey now! This is easily my favorite Masterclass.

These gardening videos are excellent. He's inspired me to get back into gardening.

I love Ron Finley...I love his spirit and his no-bullshit approach to growing. I love that he got in there and showed things that feel scary to people, like pulling a plant out of a pot and banging on the root ball a little with your hori hori. Some people may want a little more structure to the class, but this is stuff that can just get you out there growing on your own.


A fellow student

Because of COVID-19, I can't find my pineapple sage anywhere. I make jelly with it. Sad. Lemon verbena over-wintered. So lemon verbena is good to go. Rosemary and sage always croak in this climate. And lavender.

A fellow student

Good tip on marigolds and white fly, (I think it was this lesson) I am trying it now.

Karen G.

I liked the information on symbiotic plant pairing. Very helpful. Also, love the alternative planter.

Birgit S.

I planted savory this morning in my herb garden. It was so rootbound that I kinda gave up. Fast forward a few hours until I watched this lesson and you bet I went out there and fixed the problem! Thanks, Ron, for your analogies while planting the herbs!

A fellow student

This will be fun to try. I have been composting for a while so I can try my hand at something more than tomatoes and peppers. The biggest problem will be the hot summer in Southern California.

Denise J.

I loved the lesson on herbs. I was inspired to create my own herb garden but to put it in a container. I tried to find some basil but was unable to find some good looking plants just yet, but I did find some other goodies. Here's an image of my herb garden...thyme, parsley, oregano, rosemary, sage, and a couple of pansies thrown in for a bit of color.

A fellow student

I love this class! Ron is so cool and has inspired me to start a little growth of my own!!

Xenya P.

Thanks a lot for this chapter and for this MasterClass! You inspired me to grow basil and mint on my wondowsill. Have never thought that it would be so enjoyable and easy!

Bernardo F.

What about problems with herbs? I understand that the amounts of sun and water depend on the region as well as the variety we plan, but what happens, if one of them has a plague?

Pedro S.

Ron did not teach us much in this lesson. How do I take care of common herbs? Why do my herbs die? Why is it so easy for him and so difficult for me? How to "not kill" your herbs in an apartment building? Do basils need more water than spearmints? Can I keep them by the window? How to prevent insects? How much should I plant so that I constantly use herbs in my food without exhausting the supply?