Herbs for Home Gardeners

Study propagating herbs, growing herbs, using herbs, landscape design of herb gardens, herb crafts and cooking with herbs, learning at home with instruction from herbal experts.

Course CodeAHT108
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Learn to Grow and Use Herbs at Home

This course aims to familiarise you with the use and culture of what are traditionally the most common herb plants.

It should provide you with a sound framework upon which you will be able to develop your knowledge of herbs.This is a course for the amateur who likes to use herbs at home. If you are serious about growing or using herbs commercially, you are better to do our Herb Culture Course (Ht371).

There are all sorts of different definitions of 'herbs'. The American Herb Society defined herbs in the 1930’s as: "Any plant that may be used for pleasure, fragrance, or physic".

Strictly speaking, 'herb' is simply a shortening of the word 'herbaceous', which in horticulture (or botany) means the type of plant which does not have a 'woody stem'. Herbaceous plants have softer tissue in the stem and tend to die back to ground level each year after flowering, to re-grow a complete new 'top' the next season. Many of the plants we refer to as herbs are like this, but not all.

The word 'herb' in the context of this course, and in the context it is commonly used today, refers to those plants which are useful because of their aromatic, medicinal, cosmetic, flavouring or repellent qualities. Herbs are plants which are used for 'food, medicine, scent, flavour etc.'

Lesson Structure

There are 6 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Herbs
    • Plant identification, plant names, general characteristics of herbs, the history of herbs, and herb resources (nurseries, seeds, clubs, etc).
  2. Herb Gardening
    • Planting, propagation, soils, plant nutrition, and container growing.
  3. Companion Planting
    • Introduction to companion planting, herb garden design.
  4. Growing Herbs to Harvest
    • Herb products, setting up a herb farm, making compost.
  5. Herbs for Cooking
    • Herb crafts, herb ingredients, cooking with herbs.
  6. Herbs for fragrance, health and beauty
    • Dyes, mordants, oils, other herb crafts.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Define herb
  • Identify herbs suitable for hanging baskets, indoor growing, and appropriate methods of propagation for at least 50 herb species
  • Define and describe companion planting
  • Give examples of appropriate companion planting
  • Build an efficient compost heap
  • Identify appropriate herbs for culinary uses
  • Identify some medicinal uses for herbs
  • Explain the culture of a range of different herbs
  • Explain a variety of different uses for a range of most commonly cultivated herbs.

What You Will Do

  • Collect and identify 30 different herb specimens
  • Learn the basics of plant identification
  • Make contact with herb farms to ask about their operation
  • Propagate herbs by cuttings
  • Prepare a soil suitable for growing herbs
  • Design and plant a herb garden
  • Visit or investigate retailers to investigate the types of herb products available
  • Prepare food containing herbs
  • Harvest and dry a herb correctly
  • Prepare one other type of herb product

Study Herb Growing and Use at Home


Herbs are grown for all sorts of reasons, sometimes just to look at, smell and appreciate in your garden, but at other times, to harvest and use for cooking, crafts or even medicinal purposes.

This course explores all of those possibilities while expanding the your knowledge of herbs, both in depth and scope.

Learn at your own pace, guided by expert Tutors and Course Developers

The course has been developed and managed by John Mason for over a quarter of a century. John is principal of ACS, former nurseryman and garden magazine editor, author of four herb books and a long term member of the International Herb Association.

Others involved with this course include:

Maggi Brown RHS Cert Hort Cert Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA)
Maggi is regarded as an expert in Organic Growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades.

Adriana Fraser Cert.Hort., Cert.Child Care, Adv.Cert.App.Mgt., Adv.Dip.Hort.
30 years of experience in horticulture, business and journalism.
Adriana has written regularly for a range of publications (including Australia's national Grass Roots Magazine) since the early 1980's. She operated a large display herb garden covering some 300 herbs on previous properties, hosting visits regularly for student groups - specifically to develop skills in plant identification and propagation. She was actively involved in education as a tutor and lecturer, in project management to develop parks and gardens,  and in developing horticultural skills and finding work placements for the chronically unemployed; she continues to be actively involved in writing, practical and organic gardening, in addition to her work for ACS.

Shane Holborn Ass.Dip.Hort; Dip.Perm.Design.
With 23 years experience in horticulture and permaculture; Shane offers our students a wealth of practical and down to earth experience. He was one of the first people to become involved in Permaculture (in the late 1970's).
For more than a decade he managed and developed the grounds of Currumbin Bird Sanctuary, the National Trust Owned wildlife park and tourist attraction on the Gold Coast. In the late 90's he established a commercial mushroom farm, built it into a thriving enterprise and then sold it; moving on to take charge of landscaping a new 8 lane freeway development between the Gold Coast and Brisbane.Shane continues to pursue a variety of roles, largely as a consultant, in addition to his work with ACS as a tutor and course counsellor.

Yvonne Sharpe
RHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt.
Over 30 years of experience in horticulture, education and management, Yvonne has travelled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.


There are hundreds of different herbs to consider growing at home.
Deciding what to grow is only the start of the journey though. Every herb is going to be different; and offers you a whole world of different things to do with it : growing it, and using it.

Consider Garlic
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a plant that grows naturally across a wide range of habitats in the Northern Hemisphere. There are many different types, though generally they are bulbous clump forming plants from the onion family. They grow to between 30cm and 1m. Foliage is hollow-stemmed and tubular. Small flowers appear in rounded heads in summer. They are white and often tinged with red.  

Garlic plants prefer light, moist but well-drained soil in full-sun. Prepare the soil by adding plenty of organic matter. Water around the roots whilst leaf growth occurs and let the plant to dry off after flowering. Very wet soil can cause rot. Heavy shade decreases crop size and yield. Rotation is important to prevent soil-borne diseases from building up. Rots and downy mildew along with slugs and snails can be problems.

Chemistry of Garlic
Garlic is known to have a wide range of beneficial medicinal effects, but the exact way it acts is not fully understood. When garlic plant cells are broken through cutting, crushing or chewing a strong odour is released. This odour is associated with the decomposition of allicin, which is a derivative of the sulphur compound 'alliin' (S-allyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide) produces allicin (diallyl thiosulfinate). When the cells are broken, the enzyme alliinase converts alliin to allicin. Other sulphur compounds, peptides, steroids, terpenoids, flavonoids, and phenols have increasingly been identified as possible active ingredients.

Bulblets or cloves (which form the bulb). 

Uses for Garlic
Garlic has culinary and remedy uses. It may reduce blood pressure, improve the blood's immune response, aid breathing, and lower lipids. There are strong indications that it has anti-cancer properties, and stimulates insulin production. Garlic is antibacterial, anti-carcinogen, antioxidant and cardio-protective.


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Maggi Brown

Maggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture
John Mason

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.
Jacinda Cole

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer. He was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up his own landscaping firm. He spent three year
Adriana Fraser

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer , teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient li
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