How to grow your own herbs
Enhance the flavours of your dishes with the satisfaction of knowing you’ve nurtured your own herbs from scratch. Growing fresh, aromatic herbs can be a fun project. It also means you won’t need to buy plastic-wrapped cuttings from the supermarket, which often wilt and rot after just a few days. Popping your live and cut plants in a handy herb keeper can help them stay fresher for longer.
How long do herbs take to grow?
Different herbs have varying growth timelines. However, on the whole, learning how to grow herbs at home can be a rewarding project as you can see progress in a short amount of time.
Soft herbs, like basil, chives, and coriander, tend to grow more quickly than woody herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, and sage. Basil, for example, germinates almost immediately and often sprouts after just four days. Parsley is slower to germinate, taking between 14 and 60 days. Once sprouted, however, its seedlings spring up quickly and yield abundant leaves. Dill is another quick-growing herb. From sprout to harvest, it takes around 40 days.
Rosemary, on the other hand, can take up to 42 days to germinate. So don’t feel disheartened if you don’t see results in the first few weeks. The wait will be worth it!
How to grow herbs from seed
The beauty of cultivating herbs at home is that you don’t need much equipment. Once you’ve got plant pots with drainage, you just need some good-quality compost or soil, water, and a sunny spot.
If you’re growing herbs from seeds, start with a relatively small pot. A rule of thumb is to sow the seed two times its thickness beneath the soil. As the seedlings grow, you can transfer them to bigger containers.
Consistent watering is key to a healthy herb garden. You want the soil to stay evenly moist, and it’s best to water gently so the seeds don’t get washed away.
A self-watering herb keeper is a helpful way to keep your herbs regularly topped up with just the right amount of water. Whether you’re growing from scratch or replanting seedlings, you can place the potted herbs on top of the hydro felt pads inside the keeper. The pads ensure the herbs always have access to water, and it’s easy to refill once the plants have absorbed it.
How to grow herbs from the supermarket
If you don’t fancy growing herbs from seeds, many supermarkets sell live potted herb plants. Often, these don’t tend to last very long once you get them home.
As with growing seeds, herb plants need regular watering to keep them happy. Popping the supermarket plants straight into a self-watering herb keeper will keep them fresh. Plus, there’s one less task to remember.
If you’d like your supermarket herbs to really thrive, you can transfer them into larger pots, with stones in the bottom to help with drainage.
Do you grow herbs inside or outside?
Most herbs are pretty versatile and grow well indoors and outdoors. They need lots of sunlight (ideally six to eight hours a day), so a bright windowsill or balcony is perfect for growing inside. Basil, mint, parsley, and chives all flourish well indoors.
If you have a garden, you can grow your herbs in pots or sow them directly into the ground. Try to find a spot with good drainage and plenty of sunlight. Herbs like dill, fennel, lavender, tarragon and lemongrass thrive outdoors.
How to store cut herbs
If you buy fresh-cut herbs from a supermarket, you may find that they wilt before you have the opportunity to make the most of them. Having an ongoing supply of your favourite fragrant herbs is a great way to add some flavour to your cooking and reduce waste.
But once you cut them, how do you keep them fresh?
Firstly, it’s preferable to harvest your herbs in the morning. Early on, their essential oils are most bountiful, so you’ll capture their incredible tastes and aromas. Once harvested, place your herb cuttings in a glass or jar of water, as you would with picked flowers. Store them in the fridge, and they should last a few days, providing you keep the water fresh.
If you want to store cut herbs for longer, a Freshly Cut Herb Keeper slots neatly into the fridge door and has breathable air vents to keep them fresh for up to 10 days.
Whether you choose to sow seeds or cultivate from seedlings, growing your own herbs at home can be a fun project and add an extra tasty kick to your favourite meals.