Why should you grow your own herbs?
Growing your own herbs has many advantages; of course, the top benefit is having herbs at your fingertips whenever you need it!
Apart from the easy access, herbs are actually quite simple to grow. If you’re looking to get into gardening or just beginning your green thumb journey, then a little herb garden may be the best way to start.
When growing herbs from seed, you’ll find that they are easy to plant and require little care throughout the growing process. If you’ve got kids and want to show them how plants grow, or if you just want some rosemary handy for your next potato dish, growing herbs from seed are the perfect option!
Top picks for seed herbs
Growing herbs from seed can take a little more patience than just buying your plant from the supermarket, but it is definitely well worth it. Gardener Carol Skyring from The Happy Hens, a community gardens organisation, has provided us with her top tip for keeping herbs alive and healthy:
“Most herbs like to be warm & well watered - but not sitting in wet soil. Keep in mind that many herbs are annuals so they’ll only grow for a season (e.g. basil, coriander) while others like rosemary will grow for many years.”
Let’s take a deep dive into 5 herbs that you can grow easily from seed, and use on your dinner once they’ve grown!
One of the easiest herbs to grow, planting a basil seed will surely pay off in the long run! Whether you want to use it for a pesto pasta or in a couscous salad, basil is versatile and a beautiful garnish for any dinner.
When growing basil, keep in mind that it has soft, rich-green leaves, so you will need to water on a regular basis to keep it healthy and standing tall. When it begins to sprout flowers and ‘go to seed’ don’t forget to pinch off the flower buds to keep your plant growing leaves for longer!
Thyme is a tried and true favourite for food, aroma and aesthetic. This plant is compact and has ground-covering capabilities, making it a great option to fill in the gaps or open spaces in your herb garden. When growing from seed, it does take quite a while - up to 28 days - to fully germinate.
A drought-hardy plant (something to think about with El Nino coming up!) and loves the sunshine, rosemary is a great pick for growing from seed. The only essentials that rosemary needs is well-draining soil and a little bit of water when the soil feels dry.
Garlic may not be considered by many as a herb but it can be used medicinally and within cooking to add flavour (which is the definition of a herb!).
Another technicality, growing garlic from seed is not actually from seed, but rather from ‘clove’. It’s a pretty easy process, simply break off individual cloves and plant them with the tip pointing up. The only hard thing to do is wait, as it takes around 8 months to grow!
Sage is one of those Mediterranean plants that can tolerate hot days and little amounts of water. During hotter temperatures during summer, they grow pretty purple flowers, which brighten up gardens and attract pollinators.
They also germinate or sprout quite quickly, meaning you’ll get those delicious leaves as reward faster than usual!
Growing tips for your herbs
There are three main considerations to think about before planting herbs in your garden:
You must have the perfect combination of these to ensure your herbs stay healthy and ready to use!
Most herbs prefer growing in full sun, so positioning them in direct sunlight for at least half a day is optimal (this is not recommended when plants are still seedlings). Herbs that don’t mind shady spots include chives, coriander, lemon balm, mint and parsley.
Herbs like moist, well-drained soil best and will thrive when they are enriched with plenty of organic matter. If the soil in your yard is too hard or difficult to work, it might be a good idea to use a raised garden bed or planting in pots.
Maintenance involves the general upkeep of your herbs, from watering to removing flower buds.
While all herbs thrive with regular watering, some Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, sage and oregano can tolerate longer periods without water. The best way to tell if your herb plant requires regular watering is if it has soft, bright green leaves, such as basil, mint or coriander.
Some herbs also require you to remove flower buds to help them last longer as plants. Basil, sage and thyme will all begin to ‘go to seed’ when their flowers grow - a simple pinch to remove the top of the stalk should do the trick to keep them producing leaves for longer. Unfortunately, this trick won’t work for coriander, which can often prematurely ‘bolt’ and become bitter and tough.
Growing herbs indoors
If you do not have an adequate space outdoors for growing your herbs, inside can work just as well!
Carol Skyring explains that ‘All herbs require sunlight so if growing indoors the best place is on a windowsill where they'll receive a good amount of light.’ She recommends using soft stem herbs (such as basil, parsley or coriander) as they tend to grow better indoors than other herb varieties.
Before sticking your seed straight in the ground, it is recommended to grow them into small seedlings or saplings within a controlled environment. This is the best way to ensure you have beautiful healthy plants.
A great way to do this is by investing in a herb starter kit, which gives you all the tools you need!
- Fill a seed raising tray or biodegradable pots with a small amount of soil
- Use a small stick, dibbler or similar shaped object to poke shallow holes in each pot. Each herb seed will have a different sowing depth, so refer to the back of the packet.
- Place seed within each hole gently, and lightly cover seed with more potting mix.
- Water well and position your tray or pots in a brightly lit spot. This position should not be in direct sunlight as it can dry out the soil.
- Once the seedlings reach the desired height - which is usually around 5-10 cm tall - they’re ready to be planted in a larger garden bed or pot.
The herb growing kit to help you get started:
Herb Seeds Starter Kit, $43.90, Better Homes and Gardens Shop
What could be better than a kit that has everything you need to get started on growing your herbs from seed? With seed packages, biodegradable pots and even a pair of gloves in this kit, this is definitely one of our best recommendations.