Growing your own herbs at home can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to enhance your cooking and add extra fresh flavours to your meals. This way you can have fresh herbs on demand without relying on costly store-bought herbs that can oftentimes wilt quite quickly in the fridge.
Herbs are also known for their health benefits, making them a great addition to your diet. With a little bit of knowledge and effort, anyone can successfully grow their own herbs at home, whether it’s creating a big veggie patch in the backyard or adding a few potted plants to your windowsill.
Basil, mint, oregano, parsley, thyme and rosemary are all great options for a beginner’s herb garden. However, how well they grow depends on the environment they’re placed in, such as the climate and the amount of sunlight they receive.
Herbs generally thrive in sunlight and require at least six to eight hours of exposure each day. However, this doesn’t mean they have to be planted outdoors and will generally grow well indoors, as long as they still receive ample sunlight and are exposed to the right conditions.
Herbs generally don’t do well in overly humid environments and prefer hot, dry climates. If you live in tropical areas such as Queensland, herbs such as basil will do best in the dry seasons. However, most herbs don’t like overly cold weather either and should be moved indoors if frost is forecast.
If you’re choosing to grow your herbs indoors you’ll have to ensure you have the right container to plant them in. While mason jars may be appealing to look at, they don’t provide proper drainage and your herbs could experience root rot.
Instead, clay, wood, resin and metal pot plants are recommended. Pots must have holes in the bottom to allow for drainage, with a saucer placed underneath to stop excess water from running freely.
When it’s time to plant the herbs a potting soil is recommended over a garden soil. Potting soil is light and porous, allowing for more water drainage. While garden soil is dense and traps moisture in the pot, potentially leading to root rot.
For those new to gardening starter plants are recommended over seeds. The grow time will be less and you’ll have access to fresh herbs quicker. Here are some easy herbs and veg you can grow at home:
Parsley is a versatile herb that can be used in soups, stews, and salads. It is also one of the easiest herbs to start with. It’s available in punnets or small pots for purchase, but it’s also very simple (and inexpensive) to cultivate from seed.
Simply dig a small hole in moist soil and scatter some seeds inside. Alternatively, put some parsley seeds in a punnet filled with potting soil, and when the seedlings have grown big enough, move them to a pot.
You won’t have to wait long to see results because parsley sprouts appear after three to four weeks.
Basil is a fragrant herb that’s perfect for adding to pasta dishes, salads, and more. There are a few ways you can grow basil, but one of the simplest ways is to propagate it from cuttings.
To take a cutting from a basil plant, cut off a 10cm stem at an angle just below a leaf node. Remove the leaves from the bottom 2-3cm of the stem and plant it in soil and place the stem into a small glass jar filled with filtered or spring water. Remember to change the water every couple of days and within 10 to 14 days you should start to see roots form.
Once the roots have grown a little longer, you can pot them in some soil.
Though not a herb, spring onions are a versatile veg that can be used in a variety of dishes, whether they are used as a garnish in your favourite Asian dishes or salad, or used for that extra splash of green when you’re making an omelette.
All you need is a bunch of spring onions from the grocery store and a glass jar.
Begin by cutting the spring onions about two to three centimetres from the root and place the roots in a small jar of clean water. If keeping indoors, make sure your jar is exposed to a lot of sun, or leave it outside on a balcony. Make sure the roots stay submerged and change the water at least once a week.
You’ll have fresh spring onion shoots sprouting up in no time!
Originally published 30 April 2020, information updated on 7 April 2023