Cooking with fresh herbs from your homegrown herb garden is more flavorful than using store-bought products. Harvesting your own herbs just when you need them means you always know how fresh your herbs are and exactly what went into growing them. Another plus is you can be confident that your plants are pesticide-free.
Not only will growing your own herbs save money, but the herbs will look lovely in your kitchen, on a windowsill, or on a balcony. Your favorite recipes will become even more delicious when you begin to use fresh herbs. Cooking and gardening are like peas and carrots, they just go together perfectly!
Ask yourself which herbs do you use most in cooking?
Start slow and select three or four herbs you cook with the most. I cook with tons of basil, cilantro, and chives so these are what I plant every year. This year I'm adding mint, it's easy to grow and has tons of uses.
If you want to add to your garden here are a few Vegetables that grow well in containers.
Will you grow from seed or buy already started nursery plants?
Some herbs do best direct sowed, so do a little research. One of my favorite places for seeds is Renee's Garden. I love the site and they have a great selection of seeds. I've added links to the end of the post for other seed catalogs.
If planting from seeds check the germination period and determine how long before you can transplant into larger pots. This year I used the Growease Seed Starter kit (pictured below) that I purchased at Gardeners.com. The kit is well made and inexpensive and made in England. You can find similar seed starting kits on Amazon
If you decide to go with already started plants, I suggest make sure to buy organic and from a reputable nursery.
Now you know what you want to plant and when you need to plant, the next step is to buy the seeds or plants and find the best-growing location.
Determine the best location for the herb garden
Generally, you can grow almost any herb inside as long as you can set up the conditions it needs to grow and flourish. This means planning for and evaluating factors such as sunlight, room temperature, and the size of the space where you want to grow the herbs. Once you have made those assessments, you can decide which products you will need and which herbs will have the best chance of success inside your home.
Some herbs that tend to grow well in most indoor or balcony environments are chives, parsley, lemon balm, mint, and tarragon. Herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme can be grown inside but will require more space and effort. Avoid growing large herbs like dill and fennel, as they require large amounts of space and will not flourish in containers.
I've tried to grow Dill but has never worked out for me. I have a north-facing balcony and depend on grow lights for everything.
Make sure the herb garden will get enough light
Like all plants, herbs will need some amount of light, whether from a natural source or an artificial one. If you can set your herb garden up by a window that receives a lot of sunlight, then it will likely be fine in this regard. But when in doubt, supplementing with a grow light guarantees that your herbs will get enough light.
Some herbs really will need a grow light if you try to grow them indoors because of how much light they require. Basil, for example, is one that can be tricky to grow indoors, but with enough space and a grow light you can have a very successful plant in no time. Fortunately, because there are so many options available, it will not be hard to find the right grow light for you. Many grow lights come with a kit that allows you to easily mount them on the wall or a stand to make sure the light reaches all of your herbs.
Use appropriately sized containers
This is especially important for the health of your herbs, because a container that is too small or shallow will produce sickly plants. Check with the growing instructions found on the seed packets or starters to see what size is required. When in doubt, you can always use a container that is a bit bigger than you think you need.
If you are limited on space, consider a vertical-style hanging herb garden. These are excellent options for apartment and tiny home dwellers. Some people put them up in the bathroom because the herbs absorb the excess moisture from showers, plus it also looks nice!
Tip: how long do the roots grow and make sure your container can accommodate.
Get the right type of potting mix
Give your herbs a strong start with a high-quality potting mix specifically for indoor or container plants. This kind of potting mix is lightweight and allows the air to circulate. Some potting mixes come with added fertilizers that can help the herbs grow more healthily.
Avoid using soil or dirt from outside, because this can damage your herbs. Diseases from outside plants can be transferred to your indoor herb garden this way. Outdoor soil also lacks nutrients the herbs need and is often too heavy, which can stifle growth.
Consider a herb garden all-in-one system
Short on time or looking for something easy? Then a smart herb garden is for you! Smart herb gardens automatically take care of the watering, lighting, and nutrients for the herbs. They are typically smaller and much more compact compared to using standard planters and grow containers.
Smart herb gardens let you grow herbs indoors that require larger spaces, such as basil. Because lighting is already built into the device, you can place a smart herb garden almost anywhere. This product gives you so much versatility and makes growing herbs inside incredibly effortless.
With these tips, you can have a productive indoor or balcony herb garden that produces fresh ingredients all year-round. Be sure to follow the care instructions that come with the seeds or starts for the best chance at growing success. It won't be long before you have fresh herbs you can add to your cooking!
If you enjoy herb gardening consider expanding and start a kitchen garden or potager on your balcony.
5 great seed companies
Try using your fresh herbs to make my tomato and basil pasta salad recipe.