Growing your own herbs can be a family project that adds nutrition and beauty to your meals. The homes of our ancestors traditionally included a “kitchen garden” and we would do well to follow their example.
Gardening can be such a great way to relax and let off steam, but many people are put off growing edibles in their garden because they think it will be too complicated.
However, it’s really easy to grow herbs outdoors or even in a window box. What’s more, a good selection of fresh herbs can really add some extra punch to mealtimes.
There are lots of really easy to grow herbs that don’t require too much looking after. If you’re growing herbs for the first time and feeling a little apprehensive then it can be a good idea to start off with a window box or some pots in your back yard. That way the herbs you grow will be more accessible and easy to care for and when you want to add them to your cooking you’ll only need to travel a few steps.
If you choose to grow your herbs in a container the first thing you need is a good compost. These days you can buy high quality compost which contains all the nutrients your plants will need. You can even buy compost that is lighter than normal making it easier to move pots and hanging baskets around.
To plant your herbs, firstly add a few handfuls of gravel to the bottom of your pot to increase drainage. Next, lightly spread your compost on top of the gravel. You should fill your container to about a quarter inch below the top.
Different herb seeds require different methods for planting but it’s always a good rule of thumb to give each plant you sew a little space. If you pack seeds to closely together it can impede their growth.
Some of the easiest herbs to grow include:
Basil needs to be sewn in early March and is best grown inside or in a greenhouse during the colder months. This is because frosty weather can turn the basil leaves black. Once your basil plants are around 15cm long you can cut the shoot at the head to encourage more leaves to grow.
Thyme is known as a dwarf shrub and the easiest method for growing is to buy a small bush from a garden centre. This can then be planted in window box, flower bed or border. Thyme likes warm, sunny weather and chalky soil so take the type of soil you have into consideration when planting.
You can buy small Oregano plants form garden centres in March. Oregano is great for growing in containers but needs quite a lot of sun so is best grown inside or in a greenhouse during the colder months.
Parsley is not as fashionable as it once was which means not so many people choose to grow it. However it’s a really versatile herb that can be used in so many dishes and is a really great basic herb to have access to. Parsley can be slow to germinate but it is worthwhile growing it from seed as you will usually get a bigger and leafier plant.
Parsley seeds in can be sown in March but keep them on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse until June. The best time to sow parsley is in July as it can be planted directly outside in the ground or in a container. Parsley grows best in partially shaded areas and likes damp soil.
* Using Your Herbs
You can use fresh herbs in a multitude of recipes and there is nothing like a sprig of fresh-from-the-garden greenery to lift your spirits and energize your body. However, when the weather begins to change or if you have a huge crop that cannot be used all at once, you will want to save that wonderful crop. Drying and grinding your herbs and storing them in plastic bags will allow you to use them throughout the cold winter months.
It’s such a wonderful feeling when you can use your own fresh herbs in your cooking and using herbs can add an extra dimension as well as giving you more of the essential vitamins and minerals you need.
If you’re considering growing herbs, the ones mentioned above are a great place to start. Once you’ve grown a few herbs successfully you’ll soon find that your herb garden just keeps on growing.