After looking into the practice of growing herbs at home, I found many factors to consider. This article is written to describe the different and most efficient ways to grow herbs at home.
Herbs thrive when grown in free-draining moisture-retentive, organically rich soil. Grown in a light location with full sun desirable. Some herbs are perennial but successionally sow annuals for best results.
Growing herbs at home is a fun and rewarding process. If the correct measures are taken, you can grow herbs indoors or in your garden with little experience.
In short, the best way to grow herbs at home is to grow the herbs that you wish to eat. Too many people think that they have to grow every herb that has ever existed.
The issue with this is that when one grows so many herbs, most get ignored and are not pruned, which keeps them compact and in good vigor and health.
The great thing about growing at home is the variety of herbs that one can’t purchase locally. It allows you to stretch your pallet by trying new flavors.
If you are inexperienced, it may be a good idea to start with herbs known for being easy to grow. Such as Basil, Dill, Tyme, and Rosemary. These can be used in many dishes you may wish to cook and are easy to grow.
As you build up confidence and experience, you can tackle the harder varieties to grow. The process of planting, growing, and enjoying the herbs is a highly rewarding one.
Things to consider when growing herbs at home
In the section below, I will describe the various methods you can use to grow herbs at home successfully.
A great thing about herbs is that they are relatively cheap to grow, and they can thrive in outdoor or indoor environments.
And, of course, you get to enjoy their flavors in your food at the end of the process.
What do herbs require to grow?
Herbs require some unique growing conditions, but these conditions can be met within most gardens. So let’s take a look at what these are.
- Full sun
- Good light
- Well draining soil
- Moisture retentive soil
- Fertile soil
Each of the 5 requirements above are important for herbs to grow fast and strong and be able to take the regular harvests. In fact, Its desirable for them to grow quickly so that they can recover quickly without disease.
So let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.
Many herbs require full sun; this is because of where they originate from. The warmth the sun provides allows for the rapid growth of foliage, perfect after being pruned.
Good light is required for herbs to photosynthesize and produce the oils that give them their flavors. For herbs to grow well, they require 8-10 hours of good light per day.
Well Draining Soil
Originating in the Mediterranian herbs requires well-drained soil. If you planted them into clay soil without adequate drainage being added, then the herbs’ root system would rot.
You can achieve well-drained soil by digging in horticultural grit into your local soil. If growing in pots, aim for as much as 50% grit with 50% potting soil. This will provide adequate drainage.
Moisture Retentive Soil
If you are a new gardener, this may seem to contradict the previous tip of well-draining. However, soil can be moisture-retentive and free draining at the same time.
What I mean with regards to moisture-retentive is that the soil retains some water but sheds the rest allowing it to drain through to lower levels or out of the pot altogether.
To help with moisture retention, you can add compost to your soil and grit mix. Compost acts like a sponge and holds on to moisture, releasing it into surrounding soils when it’s needed.
This one is more of a combination of the previous four. The reason is that if your adding compost and grit to the soil, then you have almost certainly added enough fertility for growth.
Compost is the key to adding fertility to any soil. This is because it feeds the microbes and soil life in the soil, and in turn, these feed your plants when they die and breakdown or defecate in the soil.
If you would like to learn how to make effective compost at home, then check out this video where I show you a step-by-step process, so you get it right every time.
What herbs are easy to grow?
Here is a list of some easy-to-grow herbs which are ideal for starting and getting used to the growing process. They are also delicious and provide lots of flavors when used for cooking.
- Lemon Balm
Each of these herbs is perfect to grow at home. Most of them can be grown indoors or outdoors. There’s nothing quite like having fresh herbs at your disposal to add flavor and nutritional value to your cooking.
The great thing about them is their versatility – they can be grown on the kitchen windowsill or in a bed in the garden.
10 Steps to growing herbs.
- Gather suitable containers, or prepare the bed
- Add plenty of grit and compost to your potting soil.
- Choose the varieties you intend to grow.
- Decide whether you are going to grow from seed or seed starts.
- Sow seed onto pots of soil and cover with a thin layer of vermiculite
- As seedlings grow, transplant to their own pots
- When ready to go into their final pot or bed transplant on a cool, cloudy day.
- Water well but allow the soil to dry out between watering.
- When growing well, harvest regularly to avoid the herbs bolting or going woody.
- For annuals, successionally sow seed every few weeks to provide herbs regularly
Choosing the Containers and Herbs
The first thing we need to do is decide on the containers or pots we will use to grow our herbs. The container must provide a good amount of drainage to let excess water out.
Pots with holes in the bottom are ideal for this. If the herbs cannot drain sufficiently, they will drown, so it is essential to choose well-draining containers.
Plastic window boxes are a popular option, and they usually have a drainage reservoir at the bottom. Grow bags are also effective, but a simple pot with good drainage will be up to the task.
Once you have chosen the container, it is time to decide on the herbs you would like to grow. The list above included the easiest herbs to grow, but it ultimately comes down to your personal preference.
Here is a brief description of the growing requirements of some of the most popular herbs:
- Rosemary – needs a cool climate, lots of sunlight, and moist soil.
- Thyme – needs small amounts of both water and sunlight.
- Parsley – grows best in well-drained, moist soil and slightly shaded areas.
- Basil – requires good amounts of sunlight and regularly watered, rich soil.
- Mint – a fast grower which is best suited to its own container and lots of sunlight.
There are two main types of herbs that we can grow at home. Soft herbs and woody herbs.
Generally speaking, soft herbs are more flavorsome and will have a larger impact on cooking, especially when they are freshly available. Basil, chives, and coriander are some examples of soft herbs.
These require more care and attention to thrive, so it might be better to start with woody herbs if you have little experience.
Woody herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, and sage, require less maintenance and attention.
They usually thrive in a dry, hot location but are resilient enough to survive the winter. These herbs still require regular watering but less frequently than soft herbs.
Choosing the Soil, Seeds & Starter Plants
Once you have identified the herbs you would like to grow, the next thing to consider is the soil. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as just using soil from your garden.
You should never bring garden soil inside as it poses the risk of bringing unwanted pests, insect eggs, or diseases into the house.
If you would like to use your own resources, it is possible to make suitable compost that is well suited to growing herbs in containers by mixing soil and ordinary compost.
The consistency of this mixture aids drainage.
Many potting mixes are available online or at garden stores that are specifically formulated to help herbs’ growth.
The advantage of using potting mixes over the soil is that it is more effective at draining the water due mainly to its lighter, more porous consistency.
If you are growing herbs outdoors in a pot or flower bed, it is a good idea to check whether your soil or potting mix has already been fertilized. If not, you should use a slow-release fertilizer to provide nutrition to the herbs for a full season.
Another thing to consider is whether you will use seeds or starter plants to grow your herbs. Seeds allow for a wider selection of herbs to grow and are usually less expensive than starter plants.
The video below will show you how to get the best from sowing your seed. Get this right from the start and you will be off to the races.
Given the right conditions, it is possible to grow basically any herb from a seed. Starter plants may be a good option if you have no prior growing experience, as they skip out the initial planting of the seed and have already begun to grow.
How to Care for and Harvest herbs
Firstly, let’s look at the necessary measures we need to take to care of outdoor herbs. To keep herb plants bushy, you should regularly pick the herbs during the growing season.
The stems’ tops should also be removed, as this will encourage the plants to thicken out. If you plan on growing several herbs in your garden, it might be a good idea to plant them in intervals so they blossom at different times.
Each type of herb requires different amounts and regularities of water. Generally, they all need regular and consistent care to flourish fully.
Make it a daily practice to check the herbs’ progress and prune and water them when necessary.
If you plan on growing herbs indoors, there require high humidity and good air circulation. Misting the herbs once a week will work wonders.
You could also set them on a pebble tray filled with water to keep the humidity high. If mildew begins to affect your herbs, a fan could be an effective way to circulate the air.
If container-based herbs begin to weaken and dry out quickly, this means that the plant has become pot-bound, and it is time to give it a new home.
Then, by gently teasing apart the roots and removing the plant with the cold compost, you can re-pot it in a larger pot with plenty of fresh compost inside. This should give the herbs a new lease of life.
Full list of herbs
- Bay leaves
- Lemon Verbena
- Winter savory
- Lemon Balm
One of my favorite herbs to grow is lemongrass. I use it a lot at home, and in the video below, I show you how to get the best from it when it’s growing.
Should different herbs be planted together?
It is possible to plant multiple herbs in the same containers, but some guidelines follow. Herbs that require lots of water to thrive, such as mint, chives, or coriander, should not be planted with herbs that prefer the soil to be well-drained, such as thyme, sage, or rosemary.
The aforementioned herbs are invasive and would ultimately kill the other herbs if they were planted together.
How long will my herb plants last?
Herbs’ lifespan varies from plant to plant, but annual herbs will only live over one season, usually for between 1-4 months. After this period, they will stop producing leaves, start to flower and then seed.
One exception is Parsley, which is known as a biennial plant and lives for around 1 year before seeding.
Growing herbs at home is fun and easy when you follow the rules set out within this blog post. It allows you to really add a new dimention to the meals cooked with your home grown vegetables.
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