How to grow a herb garden

Growing herbs is a fun way to develop green fingers, and a lovely activity to do with children as well. You will really appreciate the fresh flavours in your food and realise you are saving quite a bit of money! – and you can share or sell to neighbours too!

They need good sunlight
Herbs will grow much better in a sunny spot, the more sun the better the flavour, so put them on your sunniest windowsill. Check out your windows to find which one gets the most hours of sunlight.

If it is not very sunny, then start with mint, parsley and chives which do better with less sunlight.

Room temperature
The ideal temperature is around room temperature. Do take care when placing herbs directly next to the window. If the leaves are touching the glass, they could burn as the glass heats up with the reflected sunlight. In homes with drafty windows, it may get too cold directly next to the window. Make sure you block the draft. Don’t try Basil if it is very cold, it won’t do well.

The herbs will do better if the pots dry out a bit between watering. Test the soil with your finger, it should be dry at the top, when it is dry an inch or so down, then water. The goal is to get the roots to grow down hunting for water, which makes the root system strong.

Also, water your herbs slowly. If you water too quickly, the water may run straight through the pot and out the drainage holes before the soil has a chance to absorb it.

A slow thorough watering is best for indoor plants. Two to three times a week should be sufficient, depending on the moisture level in your home.

If you find you need to water daily, this could mean one of several things:

  • The pot is too small for the herb plant. Tip the plant out & check the roots. Are the roots taking up the whole pot? Move it to a larger pot size.
  • The humidity level in your home may be too low. In the same area as your indoor garden, add a tray filled with small pebbles. Pour enough water to just cover them. The water will evaporate around your plants giving them the extra moisture they need to stay healthy.
  • It is too hot. The heat of the sun can dry out pots quicker. If your herbs seem to be drooping & consistently getting too dry you could move them back from the window a bit.

Choose the best herb pot- make holes
Each herb should be in a separate pot, you can use yoghurt pots or tins, but make sure you make draining holes and put them on saucers so as not to stain your windowsills.

Self-made pots are great, but make sure to include drainage holes and saucers. The herbs must not be left sitting in water or the roots will rot, so make sure there are always small holes in the container.

Make sure to have a saucer for every pot you use to grow herb indoors. You can very quickly damage a table or make a mess if you don’t have a container for the water to drain into.

Have fun with the design. Use this opportunity to spice up your kitchen or living room with some colorful pots. And don’t limit yourself to the traditional pots. You can re-purpose many household items and turn them into unique herb planters. Get the kids involved in painting them.

Compost or potting soil
If you can, do buy potting soil or compost from a nursery, one bag will last you for a very long time. It needs to drain well, so if you buy compost then do add coarse sand so that it is not too compact. If you use soil from your garden, if it is clay-ish then add some small pebbles at the bottom of your pot for drainage.

Boiling potatoes and other vegetables or hard-boiling eggs release nutrients into the water. Let that cool, and you can use it to water your herbs. Used coffee grounds, too, give plants a nice bit of nutrition. Just work them into the soil around your herbs.

Adapted from

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