Herbs are quite literally the spice of life, which is why it’s so great that they’re so easy to grow.
Even if you have the blackest of thumbs, it’s quite easy to start your own herb garden outside or inside your home, depending on where you live and what kind of space you’re working with. Growing herbs is not only fun, but it gives you fresh and flavorful ingredients to experiment with in the kitchen. Although you’re probably familiar with different herbs and their varieties, fresh herbs are bold in comparison to their dried counterparts.
Growing herbs is a great first step to growing your own food. They’re easy, relatively inexpensive, and grow well both indoors and outdoors. Before you get started, here are six valuable things to take into consideration.
6 Tips for Growing Your Own Herbs
1. Buy Them Sprouted
Although some master gardeners may be able to make things grow from seeds, it adds a whole new level of complications to what you want to be a simple process, at least for your first time around.
Do yourself a favor and buy your plants already sprouted. They’ve been grown from seeds by professionals and are a little heartier than a packet of seeds that are relying on you to grow them. Herbs like basil, rosemary, chives, sage, parsley, mint, oregano or thyme are great to start out with.
2. Find Some Sun
Many herbs hail from countries closer to the equator — think the Middle East and Mediterranean — and therefore thrive in super sunny conditions. This isn’t to say that you can’t grow herbs abundantly inside, but make sure they’re close to a window where they receive sun for at least nine to ten hours a day.
If you have the time and energy to baby your plants a little bit, moving them outside to soak up even more Vitamin D is never a bad idea. If you’re growing your herb garden outside, the same rules apply.
3. Don’t Overwater Them
Herbs are not house plants and therefore are a little more finicky about how often they’re watered. Whereas you may water your fern everyday, cut back to three to four times a week for herbs. An easy way to test to see if your herbs need water is to use your thumb to press into the dirt — if it’s dry all the way down, give them a little sprinkle.
4. Make Sure You’re Using Quality Dirt
As weird as it may sound, splurge on the type of dirt you’re using when you plant your herbs, as this will have a direct effect on how well they grow.
Avoid potting soil and instead opt for potting mix — it’s rich in nutrients and will help your little herbs to flourish, whereas soil tends to dry out quickly.
5. Drainage is Important
As tempting as it is to buy some funky looking containers from Target to plant your herbs in, you need to buy something that’s designed to hold plants so that they will drain correctly. Trust me, I’m talking from experience.
A pot with a hole in the bottom and a small plastic tray or a pot made of material like terracotta, which is porous and absorbs water, is ideal.
Even if you buy a terracotta pot or something similar, go ahead and spend the extra dollar to invest in the small plate or piece of plastic that goes underneath it if you’re planting inside. This helps to avoid unsightly water stains in your house — again, take it from my experience. Ask my mantle or the top of my kitchen cabinets if you don’t believe me.
6. Cut From the Top
When you’ve completed all the above steps and you’ve finally started to see the fruits of your labor, it’s very exciting! However, harvesting your herbs correctly is just as important as taking steps to plant them and nurture them correctly.
When you’re cutting a leafy plant like basil, make sure you take leaves from the top of the plant and work your way down to the bottom. Chives, sage, rosemary, parsley and mint all follow these same principle.