Why grow herbs at home? Maybe you’re looking to save some money, interested in starting a new hobby or even wanting to try fresh herbs in your food whilst cooking. Regardless of the reason, we can help you get started with information from planting herbs to looking after them and even types of soil/fertilizer to use. You may be surprised on some of the tips we can provide!
The first thing to discuss can seem small but can be surprisingly complicated, which is where in your kitchen should you place your herbs?
The best place is somewhere with a decent temperature and access to natural light so the plants can thrive. You have to make sure that the location you choose isn’t too dry as it can cause problems with drying of the soil (which can lead to a disastrous outcome).
Another thing to keep in mind is maintaining a constant temperature in your location as plants do tend to dislike inconsistent temperatures and this can lead to problems with growth.
As long as your chosen area complies with these guidelines you are ready to begin planting your herbs!
All herbs and plants come with what is called a nursery pot, this is used to keep the plants safe and support them while they grow from a seed into a full-fledged plant.
Pots required can change depending on the type of herbs you are planning to grow in your kitchen, some herbs require larger sizes the longer you look after them (due to how they grow). On the other hand, other herbs may only require a small pot and very rarely grow.
When you are planting your new herbs ensure your pots drainage holes are not cluttered and can easily drain any water used while maintaining your herb. If the water sits in the soil for too long it can rot the roots and cause the plant to become sick. If your pot is decorative and does not have these holes at the bottom you can either make the holes in the pot yourself or use as a tray for the water.
You can tell when the pot needs to be changed when:
- The roots cover the drain holes
- The plant is coming out of the soil
- The pot has started to crack
If you decide to plant your herb garden in the same pot make sure you do not plant them close together as it can cause the roots to tangle or the leaves to cover each other. This can cause a struggle in receiving natural light.
With finding trying to find the perfect soil for your plant, most gardening stores will supply the soil you’ll want to use initially. You’ll want to make sure the soil suits the type of climate the herbs come from. Cactus for example (though not a herb) grows best in coarse, well-drained soil (mixed with about 1/3 of Sand) due to the environment it naturally grows in. Whereas a herb such as African Violets prefers soil with a high humus content to grow in.
The biggest concern in regards to making your own soil blend is that the mixture is light enough that is has adequate pore space for air, water and the roots to grow healthily. If you require more information, speaking to a worker at your local gardening store for an experienced opinion is one of the options.
Planting your Herbs
When you are planting herbs from a nursery pot all you need to do really is fill the new pot to about half with soil (maybe add some gravel or stone to help with water drainage) and make a slight hole.
Gently take the plant out of the nursery pot and then place in the hole, push the sides of the new pot together slightly to loosen the soil a little and then fill the rest of the pot with soil and pat it down to make it level (Do all this gently so you do not damage the plant in any way). Once done, water the plant slightly and put your newly potted plant in its new home.
Fertilizer is not specifically necessary for the growing of the herbs but it is still something to consider for increasing plant vitality.
Compost and fertilizer work to help increase the quality of the herbs you are growing and can easily be bought at your local store. When using compost it is a good idea to mix it into the soil before planting in order to provide nutrients to the herb when potted. Fertilizer is best used when the pot has been planted and added infrequently in order to not smother the growth, too much of a good thing you know.
One tip for using fertilizer is to either make or buy a spray tube (like liquid soap for example) and fill it with the fertiliser and use that to judge how much you need at a time. Most store-bought fertilizers have instructions you can read to make this part easier. However, be aware of plants that grow in low light, as you’ll require less fertilizer than those that grow in greater light.
In regards to watering your herbs remember that most of the time, “less is more” meaning that you need to find a balance between water the plant, on one side the plant may become dry and dehydrated when watered less, but on the other end of the stick the plant can also drown from over watering it.
One recommendation is to buy a spray bottle (such as a mist spray bottle). Fill that with water then proceed to spray the herbs lightly and separately twice a day. When watering, ensure to focus primarily on the leaves of the plants, as this should give you all of the hydration your plants will need.
Although if there is a dramatic rise in temperature (a heatwave for example) you’ll need to compensate for this by increasing the amount of water you use to avoid dehydration. Dictating if your plan need water is rather simple if it seems too dry to you give it some more water and again remember, some herbs require more water than others depending on which types you have decided to plant.
One of the best ways to manage temperature for your plant is to treat it like it was a human being. Would a human be able to handle rapid changes in temperature without help? Would they be ok in colder climates without a way to keep warm? What about becoming overheated? If you think that a human would struggle without help in these conditions then the same can be said for a plant.
When taking care of your herbs make sure you have given them plenty of sunlight and that they are in an area of your kitchen that remains at a stable normal temperature. If a human can live and thrive comfortably in the environment’s temperature than so can a plant.
Sunlight is one of the most important ways that a plant survives, by using photosynthesis it acquires most of its nutrients and strength. Because of this, it is generally better to keep your plant in a place where it can get lots of sunshine! Such as a windowsill or table by a window.
Using your herbs for cooking is one of the main reasons for growing them in the first place. The plants are usually ready for cooking when they sprout a large number of leaves and look mature. I recommend that you pick the leaves every so often even if you are not using them in anything particular at the moment as it will encourage the plant to grow more for later use.
When picking leaves, ensure you only take up to one-third of them at a time as leaving too little leaves on the plant can kill them. DO make sure you give your herbs a chance to grow back leaves before you pick a large amount again so you avoid the herb dying.
This really is what you need to know in order to start growing your herbs in your kitchen, Sunlight water and soil. Make sure to look after your plants and they will look after you. Keep good care of your plants, and enjoy them when they’re ready to harvest!