There is something quietly satisfying about flavouring your food with fresh herbs grown in your balcony or on your windowsill – or (if you’re lucky) in your own kitchen garden. You can experience that joy, too with just a bit of effort. Because herbs are amongst the easiest plants to grow. Home grown herbs are organic and easy on the pocket, too.
We show you how to get your own herb garden growing in a few easy steps.
# 1 Prep & Pot
Most herbs love the sun, so figure a nice, sunny place in your house for them to call home. In case you live in a place where temperatures soar in summer – ensure a space in the shade or one which gets sunlight for part of the day.
Choose a container that has drainage holes and is large enough to accommodate seeds or cuttings. You can recycle empty milk cartons, juice cartons, or use plastic or PET bottles with cutouts to grow your herbs in. Place a tray underneath your pots to collect and drain off excess water.
Or take the easy way out and choose from our eclectic selection of planters and pots here
Next, make your own potting soil by mixing 50% ordinary garden soil with 50% homemade compost. You can buy compost or put wet waste from your kitchen (like tea leaves, egg shells, vegetable peels, stalks) to good use and make compost out of it. Your herbs will thrive in this compost and you’ll be putting your waste to great use. Fill the container with the compost-soil mix till about three quarters of its height.
Moisten the soil lightly with water. It must be moist but not wet. Take care not to damage the roots, and evenly space the herbs in the container and sprinkle enough soil to cover the roots completely. After this, pat the soil down lightly and water the soil. Mist the leaves with a spray bottle if it is very hot
# 2 Take Care
Most herbs grow best in a bright sunlit location. In case it’s very hot – move them to the shade. Regularly rotate pots around the direction of the sun so that the herbs don’t bend in one direction. Keep a watch on your pots.
Soil must remain moist but must not turn soggy. Water your herbs depending on how dry the soil is. Soggy soil will lead to water accumulating at the bottom of the pot and cause roots to rot. One of the first signs of over watering is leaves turning yellow.
Circulation of air around the pots is also necessary – to keep herbs healthy and pest free. Herbs also require frequent trimming to encourage them to branch out and become fuller. So prune but don’t cut more than a third off. The more you prune, the more they will grow.
# 3 Harvesting your Herbs from Pretty Pots
When it comes to fresh herbs – a little goes a long way. Sharp clean scissors can be used to snip the fragrant leaves off the plants. If you snip leaves around the base of the plant, the plant will continue to grow and fill out.
# 4 Make a Beginning.
Grow the following herbs this summer:
Plant a row of whole coriander seeds in a pot on a sunny window sill. Don’t over-water the plant and you’ll see little shoots of coriander that can be plucked and used as a garnish for your food.
The sacred herb that grows in many Indian homes, basil or tulsi requires plenty of sunlight and water. Plant a few cuttings before the monsoon, and let it grow through the rains. Use the warm, spicy flavoured leaves to garnish pasta and pizza. The leaves of the tulsi can flavour tea and be used to heal coughs and colds.
Simply take mint stalks with roots and plant them in a pot. Mint is most easy to grow and flourishes everywhere. It can add flavours to chutneys and be used as a garnish and more
A signature herb that’s part of our, Indian chillies are great choice for your herb garden. Take a dried red chilli, break it and gather the seeds. Plant them in a small container or in a seed tray. Transplant the saplings into a pot when they have 4 or 6 leaves. Chilli plants thrive with heat and water and will do best in a place that gets loads of sunshine.
Happy Herb Gardening!