Fresh herbs are great for finishing your favourite dishes and adding subtle spice and flavour to your cooking. But the shop-bought fresh herbs can be a little pricey especially if you buy the packed variety and have used only for a 1/2 of the pack. Cut herbs seem to go off a lot quicker than if they are potted even if you keep them in the fridge (the cut variety, of course!). I like to buy potted herbs, which last much longer, and I always keep a few varieties on my windowsill in the kitchen.
Starting an indoor herb garden is a relatively easy and fun project that will give you daily access to fresh herbs and will make your kitchen smell lovely too!
If you wanted to start your own indoor herb garden, here are my top tips:
Choose the right type of herbs
First of all, choose the herbs that you actually like to eat. There is no point growing something in your herb garden, that you don’t like the taste of and have no call for in your favourite recipes. Check the recipes that you often use and check what herbs are included in the preparation of those recipes. Once you know the type of herbs you like, choose herbs that are easy to grow. Easy ones to start with are: mint, oregano, chives, thyme, parsley, basil, rosemary, sage, dill, marjoram and tarragon.
Herbs that can grow in the shade
If you don’t have much natural sunlight, you can focus on growing herbs that are quite happy in a light shade. These include chives, parsley, tarragon, golden oregano, wild bergamot, lemon balm or thyme.
Choose the right herb container
Similarly, like any indoor plant, your herbs will need good drainage which means that you need to plant your herbs in a plant pot (with drainage holes) and then put it into a decorative pot. I like to use old cups, that I broke the handle of or that are chipped. Old bread tins are also great because they look like planters. You can also use old tins and of course normal plant pots.
Decide on where to place your indoor garden
The obvious choice here is the kitchen windowsill as you want to have your herbs readily available when you are cooking. But to grow successfully, your herbs will need to have a bit of sun, ideally at least 6-8 hours of sun a day, so don’t put them somewhere where you don’t get any sunlight.
If you have only north-facing windows in your kitchen or perhaps you don’t have any windows in your kitchen, you can still grow your herbs there, but you will need to create the ‘sun’ with artificial light. It’s best to use full-spectrum grow lights, which mimic the natural day light. You can buy these at most garden or DIY shop. The lights should stay on during day hours and be turned off at night.
Choose the right type of soil
Although indoor herb gardens are easy to maintain, you’ll still need to provide your herbs with the best soil you can. Choose one that’s specifically for herbs or vegetables. The soil also needs to have plenty of drainage as herbs don’t like to sit in the pool of water. You can usually add a few broken pieces of pots or small stones at the bottom of each pot before you plant your herbs.
Keep your herbs watered
Make sure your plants are watered but don’t overwater! The rule of thumb is to let the herbs dry out before watering.
And finally, use your herbs and pinch a leaf or two as you cook your dinner! They are not there to decorate your kitchen; they are there to be used. By doing that, you will be actually encouraging the re-growth, so it’s a win-win situation!