Start your own culinary herb garden

I thought a quick guide for growing herbs indoors would be a good project.

Because, if like me, you’re sick of buying fresh herbs from the supermarket.

Then watching them wilt and die a few days later, you might contemplate growing your own indoors.

But there are a few basic rules in order for your indoor herb garden to thrive.

And deliver fragrant flavours to elevate your dishes.

Guide for growing herbs indoors

3 tops tips

  1. Herbs require plenty of sunlight, lots of water, and proper soil.
  2. Plant herbs in separate pots, you can manage the watering needs of each.
  3. Looks for pests – when buying plants, check for pests like aphids, spider mites, scale
    • Spider mites make fine webs on and between the leaves.
    • Scale make shell-like bumps on plant stems and the underside of leaves
    • If you find these pests, you can wash them off temporarily with tepid, soapy water, but it’s best to start with a pest-free plant.
    • To prevent problems, avoid crowding the plants.

Where best to grow herbs

Natural light

  • Put them in windows that have the brightest light and most hours of sun during the short, cool winter days.
  • Herbs like rosemary, thyme, basil, bay laurel and oregano.
  • In windows that have less light (say 6 hrs) put herbs like mint, parsley, chives and chervil.
  • They prefer less intense light and cooler temperatures.

Under grow lights

  • Put the herbs within a foot of the bulbs.
  • Start by having the lights on for 12 to 16 hours a day for bright-light plants
  • Then adjust as necessary.

Pick the right pots

Choose your material (clay, fabric, metal, or wood will do the trick),

then choose your pot size based on where your garden will be.

Smaller pots work best if you’re planning to keep your herbs on a windowsill in the kitchen; go a little bigger if you’re going to keep them on the porch. Whether your pot fits one plant or three, you’ll want to give at least eight inches of space to each plant to avoid overcrowding.

Buy the right soil

Buy potting soil, not garden soil

Potting soil allows for good water drainage.

Give your herbs attention

Make sure you keep an eye on the light they’re getting and adjust accordingly

Harvest them often as this will encourage continued growth.

6 herbs great for growing and cooking with

  1. Mint (perennial)
    1. Can grow at a fast rate
    1. Best in its own container.
    1. Grows ok in shade, but strong sunlight will have it going nuts!
  2. Basil (annual)
    1. Basil thrives in heat and light
    1. Well-looked after basil will keep and grow for several weeks, but a long-term will require frequent replanting.
  3. Thyme (perennial)
    1. Plant thyme in fast-draining soil mix and in a spot on a warm, sunny windowsill.
    1. Thyme prefers less moisture, but you still need to keep the surface of the soil damp.
  4. Rosemary (perennial)
    1. Rosemary grows year-round if in a warm spot or with a lot of light in winter
  5. Flat-Leaf Parsley (biannual)
    1. Parsley will grow in both in full sun and partial shade.
    1. Plant it in a deep pot
    1. Parsley can grow up to two feet tall.
  6. Sage (perennial)
    1. Sage grows almost anywhere, but its leaves will be most flavorful if exposed to lots of sun.
    1. Best potted in well-draining soil.
spice and herb hack
Make your own bouquet garni

Want more on how to grow a herb garden?

Check out my guide on herbs to match meat flavours, here

Or my handy post on spice and herb substitutes