Growing your own herbs is a great way to save some green, add flavor your food, and brighten up your home at the same time. Many varieties of fresh herbs taste distinctly different than their dried counterparts; for instance, dried rosemary has a fraction of the potency and fragrance of fresh. Store bought fresh herbs can be pricey, and even then, those herbs aren’t likely to be at their best. Freshly picked, young herbs impart the highest quality flavor, so what’s a better way to get them than growing them yourself?
General Planting Tips:
1) Most of these plants require about 6-8 hours of sunlight; they should also get some amount of shade during daylight hours.
2) Soil for these plants should be kept moist, but well drained. Soggy soil will cause your herbs to dry out, and leave them susceptible to fungus and other unwanted invaders.
3) Fresh herbs don’t have a very long life after they’re picked, so feel free to make your own dried herbs once they reach their expiration.
4) Make sure to use potting soil that is safe for consumable food.
5) There are many varieties of these herbs; choose ones that are more compact as these are likely to do better indoors. Creeping varieties and bush-like varieties are less suited to indoor growing, but are great outside.
Fill up a pot almost to the top with soil, and sprinkle basil seeds approximately two inches apart. Cover up the seeds with another inch of potting soil and water immediately. Since basil is a very delicate herb, it’s best not to transplant it to any other pots later on, so try to pick a place and pot dedicated to your basil sprout.
Peppermint is an extremely hearty, even invasive, plant that will grow all over the place if you don’t contain it to a particular pot or area. They require only a little sunlight (so it’s ideal for indoor growing). You can harvest peppermint plants very frequently and likely have plenty to spare.
Oregano prefers the sunnier end of 6-8 hours, and enjoys drier soils; you should give it a bit less water than you would to basil or mint. They grow to approximately 1-2 feet high, on average, making it a comparatively large plant. Give the seeds a good amount of room between each other (about a foot). If flowers bloom, snipping them off will encourage leaf growth.
Parsley is a very slow growing plant, and will likely take around two weeks to germinate. Soak the seeds in hot water for one night, and then plant them into small pots. Keep them indoors until they finally do sprout, after which they can be placed outside if you prefer. Using deep pots will help your parsley develop a healthy, long taproot system.
It is better to grow Rosemary though cuttings rather than seeds, as they can be difficult to germinate. Remove leaves at the bottom of the cutting and dip the end in rooting hormone. Plant your cutting in good soil and place it in warm, indirect sunlight. Mist the cuttings daily. After 2-3 weeks, test if they’ve rooted by gently tugging. Their care instructions are similar to oregano.
Thyme is a very low to the ground, almost shrub-like plant that grows best in somewhat dry, sunny conditions. It is very low fuss and low maintenance; you can even find it growing freely in the dirt cracks between sidewalks. It’s probably best to grow thyme outside, but you can grow it indoors beside a bright, sunny window where it’ll get as much light as possible.
Photo Credits: Eastern Landscape Services, Healthy Voyager, Mary Crimmins, Serious Eats, Mama Hen and the Chicks, Marler Blog, Lover’s Lane Nursery, Garden Notes