There is nothing better than using fresh herbs to season your food. Whilst we love the convenience of being able to pick up fresh herbs in our local supermarket, they often go off before we have a chance to use them all. It would be easier, and tastier, to just be able to pick them off your own garden. 

But how easy is it to start an herb garden in your kitchen? 

-Easier than you think. 

For year round fresh herbs all you need is access to a window that receives at least 4 or 5 hours of direct sunlight every day – which in Australia we are not short of. You will also need the correct soil, watering patterns and housing for your plants. 

Lighting 

In order for your plants to grow you need to create a vegetative light cycle where so that they can receive (ideally) around 8 hours (or more) of direct sunlight (or artificial light) and around 8 hours (or more) of darkness. This encourages your plants to grow.

To help your herbs grow quicker, simply use fluorescent lights directly above the plants to give them a boost – it will also help your plant to produce more yield. 

Soil 

Soil is needed to flavour your herbs, however unexpectedly – it is the lower quality soil which will create the better plant. Head to your local gardening centre and ask for the best herb growing soil – herbs are full of delicious oils that create the explosive flavours. If you buy a good quality soil your herbs are likely to grow too quickly to have produced any oils when grown. 

Watering

Check your soil every day by touching the surface with your fingertips, it should be soft and moist – if it feels dry you need to water your plants. Water generously (until you see water leaking from the holes in the bottom of the container) and less often – but try not to over water or drown your herbs. 

Housing 

Housing for your herbs is very important. You will need containers with holes in the bottom as herbs like their soil to drain quickly. Line the bottom of your container with half an inch of broken tiles or slate and other smaller stones. You should choose a deep container to give the roots room to grow and create a much stronger plant with a much tastier yield. Always water your plants from the base in the soil, rather than from the leaves. 

Nutrients  

Ten days after your plants have been planted or transplanted you can start feeding them with added nutrients. Use 10ml per gallon of B1 plant mix and liquid seaweed in all the water you feed your plants after the 10th day. This will encourage oil production due to the high levels of growth hormone and vitamins. 

Picking your Herbs 

Your herbs should be ready to pick around four to six weeks after planting or transplanting – or as soon as there are enough leaves to be picked without leaving the plant bald. If you are growing a herb that flowers, like basil, they are best picked when in bloom. You can find the highest levels of essential oils when you harvest or pick your herbs at the end of a dark cycle. 

Visit this Pinterest board to view a wide range of DIY containers that will look great in your kitchen, and be sure to send us in pictures of your herb gardens to our social media pages in order to be featured in a future article in The Style Mag!