As herbs are generally grown in small containers, they are an ideal addition to any garden or window sill.
Here are some tips to start your own herb garden – from seed and from plant.
Choosing your herbs
With a wide range of herbs available, it may be difficult to know where to start. For beginners, herbs that are easy to grow at home include sage, parsley, coriander, basil, chives, mint and rosemary. It is also worth considering what you intend on using your herbs for.
From seed or from plant?
Pre-potted plants are a good option for beginner herb growers and are available in most supermarkets and garden centres. When you are buying pre-potted herbs, consider the weight of the pot. The lighter the pot is, the less water that is available. It is also worth inspecting the plant for any signs of disease, weeds or pests. Furthermore, ensure leaves and stems are not wilted or discoloured, but appear green and healthy. Remember that herbs will need to be moved from their original pot with fresh potting soil when they outgrow it.
Growing seeds from scratch is more time consuming, but a cheaper option. April or May is the best time to grow herbs from seed, as they are less likely to be exposed to frost.
The seed packets should give you all the information you need to start sowing your own herbs, including planting depth, spacing, sizing, location, germination and harvesting instructions.
Herbs can be grown in window boxes, gardens, plant pots or bags. Plastic trays are ideal for seeds too. Whichever container you choose to grow your herbs in, ensure they have sufficient drainage, to prevent your herbs from getting waterlogged.
The type of soil you use is particularly important when growing herbs from scratch. To start your herbs from seed indoors, a seed starting mix is the most suitable as it is moist and contains extra fertilisers. It is lighter and allows seeds to germinate easily.
If you are growing outdoors, both potting soil and potting mix can be used. Use a lighter mix for small plants and a slightly heavier mix for bigger plants. Mature herbs can be planted in typical garden soil once they are strong enough.
If you are planning on growing seeds in a garden plot, you may need to use peat moss or compost. Create a smooth surface by raking through any big clumps of soil and follow planting instructions on the seed packet. Create a number of holes in the soil with the recommended depth and place 2-3 seeds in each hole. Cover over with soil and water regularly.
Herbs require a lot of light to grow. A windowsill is a great location for a herb box, because of the available sunlight. You could also use an artificial light in the early stages of growing from seed.
Keep your herbs well-trimmed to prevent them from bolting. Ensure they are well spaced out within their container, to prevent overcrowding and restricting nutrient resources. As herbs are harvested frequently, using a light, all-purpose fertiliser will ensure that the herbs maintain energy to keep growing.
Water your herbs every day but ensure there is drainage to prevent them from drowning.