For those who prepare a lot of home cooked meals, having an herb garden at your disposal is a wonderful advantage. I started growing herbs a couple of years ago when we built our entire backyard garden.
Over the years, there have been a few mishaps. We’ve lost some plants completely and learned what works best in our area when it comes to growing herbs.
Since each agricultural zone is different, and the weather can vary from place to place, I’ve found it easiest to keep my herbs indoors. We learned the hard way that the Texas summer sun is just too much for herbs and it killed all of them.
Pick a Location for your Herb Garden
When growing herbs indoors, there are a few things you need to consider. The first, and probably most important, is the location. Where are you going to keep the herbs?
One of the hardest parts of growing any plants indoors, including herbs, is finding a location that gets a good amount of sunlight. Generally, if you are in the Northern hemisphere, you are going to have the most amount of sunlight from a window that faces South.
Many herbs prefer full sunshine, meaning they can be in the sun for 8+ hours per day. But, there are a few that don’t need as much sun. Take into consideration what you want to grow when you are choosing a window.
If you don’t have any good windows with enough sunlight, then consider a sun lamp. They are perfect for replicating the sun’s rays to give your plants the nutrients they need to grow.
Another consideration when choosing your perfect location is any kids and/or pets that may want to touch (or eat) the herbs as they grow. My boys are old enough now to know not to touch the plants. But when we have friends over with younger children I move the plants up to a higher shelf.
We also have checked each of the plants to make sure they are safe if ingested by a cat. Our cat doesn’t eat the plants very often, but she has made herself sick chewing on one of my aloe plants so I had to move it.
Make sure your plants are out of reach of children and pets that may interfere.
Ease of Access
Remember, the goal of the herb garden is to be able to use it when you are cooking. If it isn’t easy to get to, or anywhere near the kitchen, then you may not remember it’s there. Instead of buying dried herbs in plastic containers, you can grow your own to use fresh in food as long as you can easily access the plants.
Also, you will need to water the herbs at least once per week, sometimes more. Don’t place them somewhere that’s inconvenient to get water to or they won’t grow. I have a reminder that goes off every Thursday to water my indoor plants. They are all in a place that I can easily reach.
Choose a Container for your Herbs
Once you know where to place the herb garden in your home, you need a container. This will vary greatly depending on a few different factors. Obviously, you want to make sure that the containers will fit in your chosen location.
Is it too big? Too small? Will it hold all of the herbs you want to grow? Is it easy to move if needed?
I use old glass spaghetti sauce jars for my herb garden. I cleaned the out, took off the label, and covered them in burlap to match in my living room. Then I filled them with potting soil and the seeds of the herbs I wanted to grow. Last, I made a small label for each to know what they are.
The jars fit very well on my windowsill, but they aren’t easy to move. Since they are individual, I have to move each one if needed. Our plan is to build a small wooden box that will hold all of the jars.
Only Grow what you Use
I feel like this is obvious, but should be stated. If you don’t use cilantro in your cooking, don’t worry about growing any! If basil is your go-to herb, consider planting it in multiple jars.
Wrapping back around to the idea of a No Waste Kitchen, only grow what you will use. Having a gorgeous jar of dill may look nice, but if you aren’t using it then that will eventually be wasted. While it can be composted, it takes more effort on your part for something you won’t use.
Make a List
When you decide you want your own herb garden, plan it out for a few weeks. Make yourself a list of each herb you think you would use. Then, every time you add it to a recipe, mark on your list. See which ones are your most used. You may be surprised that some you thought you would use don’t make the cut.
Build or Buy
Once you know what you want to grow, where it will go, and what type of container you’ll use, it’s time to put your herb garden together. I always try to reuse old items (such as glass jars) for projects when possible. If you have the materials at home, it’s better to use them to create your herb garden if possible.
Note: If you do a search on Google for homemade herb garden you will find a lot of wonderful ideas!
If you can’t make one at home, try shopping thrift stores first. You’d be surprised at how many glass jars and small containers you can find there. You may find just the perfect container.
As a last resort, buy something new for your herbs. This may be your only option if you need a specific container, or want a full setup that’s ready to go.
Purchase Starter Plants or Seeds
Whether you choose starter plants or seeds will greatly depend on how soon you want to use the fresh herbs. When you buy a starter plant, it’s already established and growing. You will just need to transplant it to your containers. Just beware that many plants die off after being transplanted but will come back in a few weeks.
Buying seeds will take longer to grow the plants, but they are usually more cost-effective. Seeds are also a good choice if you have jars with a small opening since you won’t need to fit the plant in there after it already has roots growing.
Water the Plants
When your herbs are first planted, make sure to give them a little bit of water each day. The best way to do this is with a misting spray bottle. It doesn’t drown the seeds and small plants but allows them to get ample water.
Once the herbs sprout, you can usually back off to watering only once or twice per week. Of course, each plant has different requirements, so make sure you follow the instructions on your seed packet or starter plant.
Do you have an herb garden at your house?
Where is it located? In a window? Outside? In the kitchen?
What herbs do you tend to cook with the most?