How To Grow Your Own Herbs

Added by Emily Bradshaw  |  Last updated March 7, 2017
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Gardening is a great and pleasurable activity no matter what it is you are growing. Often enough, it’s an added benefit if what you grow ends up being useful to you in some way. It helps to improve the sense of achievement and self-sufficiency that you get from doing it in the first place. Of course, that feeling isn’t based on an illusion, either. If you can grow some kind of food or medicinal plant, you are actually benefitting yourself in a real way.

While fruit and vegetables are great, they tend to take a reasonable amount of time and attention, which you might not be able (or want to) invest in. If you’re not already an experienced, green-fingered gardener, starting with something simpler like herbs is a great start.

Indoors or outdoors?

One of the key benefits of growing your own herbs is that for many if not most of the more common varieties out there, you can either grow them in your garden without much fuss or – if you don’t have a garden or you can grow them indoors, in planters, with little to no fuss required.

 

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(Image by Suzette Pauwels)

One of the key benefits of growing your own herbs is that for many if not most of the more common varieties out there, you can either grow them in your garden without much fuss or – if you don’t have a garden or you can grow them indoors, in planters, with little to no fuss required.

When it comes to growing your herbs indoors, the pros are: 

-It requires little space.

-Can be grown all year around.

-Can be monitored easily.

-Is unlikely to be damaged by pests.

The cons, however:

-Plants must be carefully positioned for adequate light exposure (south-facing windows are best).

-Pots must be just the right size and must have adequate drainage.

-The size of the plants depend on how big the pot is, how many seeds are planted together, and the quality of soil or fertiliser used.

Pros of growing herbs outdoors are:

-Higher yields and bigger plants.

-Herbs turn out being more flavourful on average.

-More space for planting in general, and for the plants to take root sufficiently.

The cons:

-Herbs can only be grown during certain seasons.

-Pests such as plant-eating insects are a likely risk, and so are weeds.

How to plant your herbs

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(Image: By Jerry)

Once you’ve made a plan about where you’re going to plant and keep your herbs, the next step is to know how you’re going to plant them and make sure that they get off to the best possible start in life.

Outdoors

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If you’ve decided to plant your herbs outdoors, then your first task is to work out how much space they’ll need (the seed packet will likely give you some hints about that). After this, find a corner of your garden which isn’t too crowded. You’ll also need to make sure that you’re planting them in a part of the garden which receives a good, direct dose of sunlight. Many herb-varieties need between 6-8 hours of sun each day in order to produce the oils which give them their distinct fragrance and flavour.

Once you’ve worked out the location, you’re still going to need to give a thought to the soil conditions. You’ll want to plant the seeds in a part of your garden that has well-drained soil. If the soil in your garden seems doesn’t seem up to the task, then you can (and should) improve a section of it by mixing in some high-quality manure or compost.

A slightly acidic PH level (between 6.0 – 7.0) is near enough ideal for almost any of the herbs you’re likely to want to grow. So make sure that you test the pH of your proposed planting ground before you decide to knuckle down to work.

If the pH isn’t right, there are various things that you can do in order to balance it out more favourably. While most of your herbs can be planted outdoors from seeds and thrive (assuming soil conditions are good and proper sunlight and water exposure is maintained), there are some which will work best if they’re grown indoors, in pots to begin with, and then transplanted outside as seedlings after a period of about 5-10 weeks. Alternatively, you could see if there are any well-insulated garden sheds on sale, and use one as a temporary incubation chamber. (Rosemary, Oregano and Mint need to be planted in pots first).

Indoors

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Growing your herbs indoors is first and foremost a matter of finding the right windowsill to put them on. Ensuring they get between 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. South-facing windows tend to be best for this, but it’s always a possibility that for whatever reason you won’t be in a position where any of your windows will do the trick. In this case, it’s time to start shopping for grow-lights.

Once you’ve set up a system for proper lighting, you’re going to want to move straight on to the planting stage. The key thing to know about planting herbs indoors is that you’re far better off using a specially prepared growth medium. Rather than using soil from your back garden. Many of these can be purchased in special ready-made blends designed to promote ideal nutrient delivery to your plants. If you feel like creating your own, this can be done by mixing together rich compost, manure, topsoil, and sand. Although this can still be a delicate balance to get right. Of course, as with outdoor planting, you need to measure the pH of your growing medium and make sure that it’s somewhere in an ideal 6.0 – 7.0 range.

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Added by Emily Bradshaw / 
Emily has a keen eye for improving a space and a creative flair when it comes to gardens. With tips and techniques, Emily aims to give useful knowledge!
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