Herbs can make any dish taste infinitely better. Just Imagine the smell of lunch enriched with fresh rosemary, mint or chives. Additionally, fresh herbs can be a great way to enhance your food if you decided to reduce the amount of sugar, salt and fat in your diet.
While dried herbs can also be used, nothing compares to fresh herbs from your own garden. The garden in this case can be a balcony container garden, or simply a few pots in your kitchen.
Herbs don’t require much space, and you don’t need to be an expert to grow them, why not have a go and try to grow them at home.
In our Herb Gardening for Beginners guide, we provide all the important information for you to make the first steps towards your own indoor herb garden.
Growing Herbs Indoors
The amazing thing about herbs is their ability to grow almost anywhere. Put them in a mere container of water and most of them will grow. For them to flourish though, you have to take a few extra steps.
Placing them on your kitchen windowsill is the best way to grow your herbs for easy access. Whether it be some lemongrass to add into your tea, or some rosemary for a pot roast, a kitchen herb garden will have you sorted. Make sure you place your herbs in a sunny spot.
If you have space on your patio or balcony, you can grow them there as well and have your own outdoor herb garden.
How Do I Make My Own Herb Garden?
You can either create a herb garden by planting herb seeds bought from a store, or by buying potted herbs from supermarkets. When buying potted herbs, you only need to transfer them to a bigger container when you get home and make sure you water them regularly.
To grow herbs from seeds, take a tray and fill it with a high-quality potting mix or compost. Using a pencil, make holes in rows where you would like to plant. Place 1-2 seeds in each hole and cover with a layer of soil, watering them regularly.
In a few days, you will be able to see tiny “herblings” sprouting out. When the plants have a few green leaves, you can transplant them into bigger pots. These pots should be at least eight inches in diameter.
All those spices and herbs in your spice rack can do more than provide calorie-free, natural flavorings to enhance and make food delicious. They’re also an incredible source of antioxidants and help rev up your metabolism and improve your health at the same time.Suzanne Somers
Choosing The Right Herbs For Your Garden
Choose herbs that you often use and like to eat. For example, it would be a waste of your time and effort if you mostly cook Indian food, but instead grow an herb like thyme.
Some herbs do not grow well with each other. Growing herbs that have the same enemy pests together would be disastrous. It would be a bounty for the pests when they discover two of their favorite foods growing alongside each other!
Another reason that some herbs do not grow well together is that they have different nutrient and water requirements. For example, rosemary and thyme need drier conditions whereas mint and parsley need moist soil to thrive.
For these reasons, it is always recommended to have different pots for different herbs.
On the other hand, if you like companion planting, the good news is that every herb is a great companion plant for another vegetable.
Growing Some Common Herbs In Your Herb Garden
Most popular herbs belong to the same group known as Mediterranean herbs:
Basil: Growing Basil is really easy, and you can use basil to make pesto or put it on pizza. Typically, medium-sized pots are recommended since they grow 12-24 inches in height. Snip off the tips of the plant to encourage growth, but be careful not to overcut this herb.
Mint: Whether in mint lemonade, spiced rice, or a refreshing mint yogurt, mint is a favorite for herb gardens. Mint grows abundantly and spreads quickly, so a deep pot is required. Since it is difficult to start with seeds, it is recommended to get cuttings and dip them in water till they develop roots, before transplanting them into the soil. Cut leaves periodically or harvest the majority of leaves before the plant flowers and try to freeze them for later use.
Rosemary: Rosemary plants are relatively easy to maintain as they are hardy and low maintenance. Ensuring that this plant receives enough sunlight is key. Cut the stems using clippers or secateurs as they can get a bit tough. Contrary to other herbs on this list, rosemary tastes better when dried. It can either be air-dried in a dry space or oven-dried at the lowest setting. As rosemary seeds are very hard to germinate, it is recommended to buy a small plant from the nursery. Cutting rigorously encourages it to bush out rather than grow tall.
Parsley: Parsley does not require a lot of light so it can be placed in a relatively shaded area as well. It is a slow grower, so you have to take care not to harvest too many leaves at once. When the plant develops leaf stems with three branches, you can start harvesting a stem or two from the lower parts of the plant.
Cilantro: Cilantro, or coriander, is a diverse herb that finds its place in many different cuisines, whether it be in guacamole or soups in Southeast Asian cooking. These can easily be sprouted from coriander seeds in small containers. They have a high germination rate so take care not to plant too many. Unlike other herbs, cilantro does not dry or freeze well, so it must be used as soon as you can!
Other popular herbs are also chives, lemon balm, dill, and lemon thyme.
Growing Herbs: Tips and Recommendations
- Start small, a few pots or so, till you get the hang of herb gardening.
- Take care not to overwater your herbs and ensure that the pots are well-drained (the finger rule of watering also applies here)
- Fertilization of herbs is not necessary, but you can feed your herbs once a month with organic liquid seaweed fertilizer or suitable compost.
- Labeling each of your herbs is helpful to know what’s what.
- It is best to harvest your herbs in the morning, as the midday sun reduces the essential oils in the herbs.
- Most herbs need to be harvested before it flowers or flowers should be cut off before they bloom. Once the plant flowers, the leaves will start tasting bitter.
- When forced to harvest herbs before you need them, some can be frozen in ice cube trays with a little bit of water to be used as required.
Final Thoughts On Herb Gardening For Beginners
More and more people are enjoying the experience of growing herbs and veggies, and the lack of large garden space should not discourage you.
Growing herbs in your culinary herb garden could be your first step into the much larger world of indoor gardening. Once you experience the excitement and rewards of a single potted herb, it’s hard not to continue.
By adding a few more plants you can soon have your own flourishing vegetable garden.