Last Updated on May 26, 2021 by Sophie
If you’re anything like me, then no doubt you’ll love adding fresh herbs to your cooking when you’re in the kitchen. A kitchen herb garden is a low cost and effective way to ensure the freshest of greenery when you’re cooking up your next meal. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to create a kitchen garden, as well as tips for maintaining your plants, which herbs you should purchase, and things you’ll need to grow herbs in your home!
Of course, the best way to get the healthiest herbs is to grow them outside, and so if you’re able to put a planter outside of your kitchen then purchase a hanging planter like this one which is made from recycled pine panels. Another quirky idea is to hang your planters like baubles in your kitchen window. For example, these planters make for a chic decor and will enable your herbs to grow in great lighting.
Things you’ll need for your Indoor Herb Garden
If you have a green thumb (or you’re trying to acquire one) and you want to have a never-ending fresh supply of herbs for your favourite meals, then an indoor kitchen garden is the easiest way to liven up your dishes, all the while making you feel proud of your accomplishments.
A sunny windowsill
Unless you have an incredibly brightly lit kitchen with plenty of windows, then the key thing you’ll need to ensure that your herbs thrive and survive is a sunny windowsill. If you don’t have a sunny windowsill to place your herbs on, there is a high chance that your indoor garden for herbs will fail.
There are a number of different ways you can grow your herbs, and depending on what you choose will depend on your personal aesthetic preference and space constraints. Of course, the most basic pots that you can use are terracotta ones like these ones.
I personally love using terracotta pots because they look chic, can be used for other plants, and are fairly easy to use. However, the main downside of using a terracotta pot is that most herbs enjoy being watered often, and plants in terracotta pots, as opposed to plastic nursery ones, tend to dry out quicker. If you live in a particularly hot place, with temperatures which regularly reach the late 20s Celsius or over, then I don’t recommend terracotta pots.
The next option for growing an indoor garden is to purchase a grow bag which accommodates several different herbs at a time, such as this one. Being able to grow all of your herbs in one bag is perfect for those who are short on space, while the design of the bag is perfect for window ledges or balconies.
For those who are serious about growing a number of different herbs at a time (more than three or four) and who don’t have the luxury of lots of window space, then purchasing a hanging shelf like this one is a great option. Just be sure to hang your shelves in a place where they get plenty of sunlight, so as to allow your herbs to thrive as best as they can!
Indoor Herb Garden Varieties
Of course, when it comes to indoor herbs, there’s no shortage of delicious and fragrant greens to choose from. With this said, some herbs are much hardier and easier to grow than others, while others will take a little more work, but will be oh-so-worth it in the end if you enjoy eating specific herb plants more than others.
One of the most popular herbs for indoor kitchen gardens is both incredibly versatile when it comes to cooking and is also an easy to care for plant which will put on lots of growth given the right growing conditions. Basil likes a warm and sunny window and plenty of regular waterings. This kitchen herb can be placed on pizza, tossed into salads, or blended into pesto sauces.
One of the easiest to grow in a container herbs is actually one which you won’t eat the leaves of directly, but will use to flavour soups and stews. Bay laurel is an aromatic evergreen tree which will do particularly well in an East or West facing window.
With a distinctive crisp onion-like flavour, chives grow in clumps and this easy to grow herb can be used in all sorts of creative ways. I personally enjoy chopping chives into soups, sprinkling it on top of pasta sauces, and adding chopped up chives to a salad to give it an extra kick.
Many people get confused when they hear the terms ‘Coriander’ or ‘Cilantro’ depending on where they come from. However, these two names are the name for one and the same plant. Coriander is often used to flavour dishes and is also tasty in salads.
A plant which originates from the Mediterranean, Oregano requires much less water than herbs such as parsley, basil, or coriander. A low growing shrub, Oregano is perfect for seasoning risottos, pasta dishes, and salads.
Of all the herbs you can grow in your indoor garden, hands down my favourite is that of parsley, which comes in various varieties. Popular varieties of parsley include flat-leaf, curled leaf, and turnip-rooted parsley. Parsley is great to add to sauces, soups, and for chopping into salads.
Though, obviously not a herb, one of the easiest outdoor plants which you can also grow indoors, which will be a welcome addition to any kitchen garden is that of lettuce. Luckily, lettuce is an easy to grow salad leaf which will thrive inside, and you can choose all sorts of flavours and varieties to make your salads more interesting. This is as long as the lettuce plants are placed alongside a brightly lit window and are watered often enough!
Tips for growing a kitchen herb garden
Learn about which plants can be grown together
Much like house plants, various varieties of herbs prefer different growing conditions. Whereas plants from the Mediterranean such as Rosemary, Thyme, and Lavender prefer drier soil conditions (and should therefore be grown together), chives, coriander, and parsley prefer much damper conditions.
Before planting various herb varieties in the same pot, check that they are compatible. It’s also worth noting that many mint varieties can grow like weeds and will easily choke or overtake your other plants if grown in the same growing container.
Pick herbs that you actually like
If you don’t like cilantro (known in Europe as Coriander), as many people don’t, then why would you choose to grow it as part of your limited kitchen herb garden, no matter how attractive it looks? Be sure to go with the edible herbs that you actually enjoy consuming so that you maintain an interest in looking after them and are therefore able to grow the very best plants possible!
Know that it’s hard to grow herbs from seed
You should know that it’s actually not as easy as you might think to grow herbs from seed. If you’re a complete novice, then you might be better served by purchasing small herbs (baby plants are referred to as ‘plugs’ in the gardening world) which you can then grow onto be bigger plants. However, if you’re up for a challenge, then go ahead and purchase a herb started kit like this one so that you can do everything from scratch yourself!
Keep your plants pruned
If there’s one piece of expert advice you should bear in mind when maintaining an indoor garden, it’s to keep your plants well pruned. When your herbs start to flower, it’s important to cut the flowers back so as to prevent the plant from going to seed. What this means is that the herbs will otherwise become woody and you won’t be able to cook with or eat them if you allow the plant to go to seed.
Care for and maintain your kitchen garden
Last but not least, hands down the most important piece of the puzzle in keeping your indoor herbs healthy and continuing to produce foliage all season long is to maintain and care for your kitchen garden.
This means trimming the herbs back when they get too leggy (which can also be a sign that they are not receiving enough light) and not over-harvesting your herbs. After all, you can’t expect to harvest enough basil off a plug in May in order to make something which requires as much basil as a pesto sauce!
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