Always wanted to grow your own herbs at home, but don’t have space? It is much easier than you think to grow herbs in containers and plant pots, both inside and out.
Most people dream of picking their own herbs, right from their windowsill or patio to the dinner plate, but they don’t know where to begin. So for all new gardeners, outdoor gardeners or even those that have a little bit of experience, let us help you master your own indoor gardening easily and quickly.
Why You Should Start a Herb Garden
There are so many reasons. It could make your kitchen or your patio look like a lush land of freshness. And you’ll feel amazing when you serve your family pasta with pesto made from the basil plant you nurtured yourself. Plus, you’ll save money at the grocery store.
Choose the Best Location to Grow Plants
Before you start gardening and buying plants and seeds you need to do a little research to see what plants will be best in the available locations. Determine in which area of your house you would like to start a garden. And indoors, any compact area, like your windowsill, will do. As long as the plants get plenty of sunlight and regular water, where you garden will not be a problem.
Light is very essential for indoor herb gardening. Plants that are grown indoors require plenty of light to grow and especially to produce a healthy harvest. Common house plants don’t depend so much on proper lighting, but when gardening a plant to harvest; your plants will definitely need more light.
Choose a spot close to your kitchen so that you can pop out and pick fresh ingredients when you’re cooking. Most herbs and veggies enjoy full sun, but in SA a full day of sun is generally too harsh for more tender plants like lettuce, so selecting an area that is sunny for part of the day is best.
Gardening is a Family Activity
Why not make it a fun family activity? This is a perfect way to teach kids about growing, nurturing and responsibility. One way to get your little ones involved is to let them choose a type of herb they want to see grow. And let them plant and nurture the growing plants.
The good news: Plants don’t require a ton to grow (the official list includes light, nutrients, water, and a little bit of love).
Decide what you’re kind of herbs you are going to grow. Growing herbs and greens are both great ways to teach kids about food and cooking.
Herbs are compact, easy, and edible. Common choices are rosemary, basil, and mint. You can pick up seeds in the gardening section of many home improvement stores or at the supermarket. To jump-start the process you can by small plants.
Pick the Right Container with Drainage Holes
The size of the container will affect the size a plant can grow. Remember, small pots dry out very quickly. So rather select a bigger pot at least 15cm deep. If a windowsill is your only option, don’t worry — a long, narrow pot will also work well and can house one or two different plants.
It’s also important that your pot has drainage holes (or at least one!) so that the water can flow through the soil. (For extra drainage you can add pebbles to the bottom of the pot before you add the soil).
Not all potting soils are created equal. A good potting soil mix will drain well while still holding moisture.
A combination of compost and loam mixed with a bit of vermiculite (which helps with water retention) and peat moss is best for herbs and veggies. Good garden mixes are available at most nurseries, but avoid potting soil, which is not really suitable for vegetable seedlings.
Water is crucial to healthy plant growth and a successful garden: it transports minerals to a plant, allows evaporation for cooling, and aids in photosynthesis.
How do you know how much to water? Add enough water to your pots so that some of it seeps out of the drainage holes. This ensures that roots at the bottom of the container will have access to water. As water pools in the saucer, be sure to empty it.
Over-watering plants waterlogs the soil and keeps oxygen from flowing freely to the roots of plants. Plants need oxygen to survive, so this is a problem! Before you know it, waterlogging can lead to decay and rot.
Selecting the Right Herbs
Before you plant, it is a good idea to water the herbs while they’re still in their pots. It helps to lessen transplant shock and the moistness reduces the resistance that may occur when the plant is put into a different growing medium.
If you aren’t sure about what to plant, ask your local nursery. But if it is a sunny spot Basil, Chives, Lemongrass, Parsley, Mint, Tarragon, Rosemary and Oregano will do well. Rosemary is a bush and it grows throughout the year even in really cold temperatures. Parsley is more resilient than you think and so is Thyme.
You can grow herbs in pots together as long as you remember two rules: avoid mixing those that like plenty of water (chives, mint, chervil, coriander, and Vietnamese coriander) with those that like a well-drained soil (s rosemary, thyme, sage, bay, and oregano).
For more information take a look at the Herb Growing Guide.
Take a look at some of the watering cans, spray bottles and plant pots that we have in our Gardening Section.