Adding a few herbs to a home-cooked meal can change it from ordinary into totally delicious. Fresh herbs are also very good for you and easy to grow, even in a limited space, so you don’t have to fork out a fortune for a small shop-bought packet that goes off before you can use it all.
Here’s what to do:
Pick a spot
Herbs need at least a few hours of sun a day – a windowsill, balcony or small, sunny courtyard all work well.
Choose a pot
Pick up something from the wide variety you’ll find at garden centres or go the DIY option and recycle a wooden or plastic box or even a tin. Just make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom and a tray to sit in to catch any overflow of water.
Lay the groundwork
If you know someone with a garden, ask them for some soil or alternatively, buy some potting soil. Add some compost or plant food if you can, although most herbs don’t need a lot of help to grow. Fill your pots about two-thirds full of soil.
Select your herbs
If you have very limited space, a mixed six-pack of seedlings will give you one of a few different herbs for the least cost. Otherwise, get a couple of different packs of your choice. Some versatile options for small spaces are basil, Italian/flat-leaf parsley, mint, chives and thyme.
Plant them out
Make a few small holes in your prepared soil. Gently remove the seedlings from their packaging, and place them about a hand-width apart in the holes. Cover the roots with soil and pat the soil down firmly. Water gently to help them settle.
Nurture your seedlings
Put your finger into the soil and if it comes out dry, it’s time to water – in summer this may be every day as soil in containers dries out quite quickly. Keep an eye on them, and if the leaves start to crisp, you may need to move your pot to a slightly cooler spot.
Enjoy your herbs
Give your seedlings a few weeks to settle and start to grow before you pick leaves here and there as you need them, always leaving enough for the plant to continue to grow. Before you know it, you’ll be hooked on herbs!