Our handy guide shows you how to grow herbs inside your home, as well as how to build your own raised outdoor herb garden for your garden.

Growing your own herbs is a very rewarding task that can help to save money and reduce waste. They don’t take up much space and you don’t have to buy a huge bunch of parsley for a single recipe and then end up with the rest rotting in the bin.

So we’ve put together an informative guide to building both outdoor and indoor herb gardens.

Here’s what you will need to get started:

For an inside herb garden

First and foremost, you are going to need space. You are going to need an area that’s clear and easily accessible – for watering the plants – which also has a steady supply of sunlight for the plants.

Ideal locations are window sills, kitchen worktops or on a veranda.

Most plants and vegetables require sunlight for a full day cycle (around 6-8 hours) while others will require less, be sure to check online or on the info card that comes with the plants to ensure you have the right plants for your area.

You may have to move certain plants to maximise their light intake at different times of the year and in Scotland, it may be best to begin with hardier plants.

Tools

The best time to plant will be February\March onwards, right through into Summer.

The basic essentials you’ll need to begin your herb garden are:

Plant pots

When you begin you’ll want the right pots for the plants you intend to grow – and of course it helps to have spares – you want to make sure they are big enough, and have enough depth to allow the plants’ roots to develop.

Make sure each plant has plenty of room and space to grow.

You’ll also want to ensure any pot or container you use will have the correct amount of drainage, as herbs hate to site in water-logged soil.

And speaking of soil…

Soil 

Try to use potting mix, which is a soil designed for containers and small pots, this type of soil is designed to be used for smaller, indoor plants.

The mix will tend to dry out quickly so do try to ensure your plants are well – but not over – watered.

Tools 

It will be useful to have a decent watering can, which you can get quite cheaply from your local pound store or garden centre.

Also a trowel is handy (but not essential) especially if you decide to move your plants to bigger pots.

The all important herbs

These are split into several categories but the first and most important category – and essentially the first choice to be made – is whether to grow from seeds or to buy established plants.

Though there will be a better variety for seeds, propagation can be tricky, so for this guide, we’ll stick to established plants. These can be purchased from your local garden store or DIY store.

The next category to look out for will be whether the plant is:

Annual and Biennials: These plants are fast growing and may require regular sowing to ensure a fresh supply

Annual Examples: basil, coriander and dill

Biennial Examples: caraway, chervil and parsley

Perennials: These are slow growing and may require a more permanent base.

Examples: chives, fennel, mint, sage, tarragon and thyme

Here is a guide to some of the more popular herbs for growing indoors:

Basel 

The perfect herb for beginners, it smells and tastes great and is easy to grow. Quite an expressive plant, it is easy to tell when it’s happy and healthy.

basil plants

Picture: Flickr

Flavour: Slightly sweet and peppery

Perfect for: Salads, pastas, wraps, soups and pizza

How to harvest: Harvest the upper leaves first, taking just a few leaves from each stem at a time

Parsley

Parsley comes in two types curly (pictured) and flat leaf. Quite sturdy, it’s the perfect plant for growing indoors and is useful in many soups and salads.

Parsley comes in two types curly (pictured) and flat leaf. Picture: Wikimedia

Picture: Wikimedia

Flavour: Clean, light and peppery

Perfect for: Salads and soups

How to harvest: Cut the outermost stalks just above ground level, which will encourage further growth.

Chives

One of the most economical herbs you can grow, as the whole plant can be eaten from the bulbs to the flowers.

herbs-spices-peppers-home-garden

Picture: Wikimedia

Flavour:  Sweet and sharp

Perfect for: The bulbs taste like mild onions, the leaves and flower heads can be used in salads.

How to harvest: Cut the leaves with scissors, starting with the outside leaves first, allowing about 2 inches of the leaves to remain.

Mint

Brought to Britain by the Romans, who used it in a lot of their cuisine, Mint is an extremely versatile herb.  It’s refreshing flavour means it can be chewed on its own or added to a variety of dishes.

Be careful though, it is quite an invasive species so be sure to plant it on it’s own and has plenty of space away from other plants.

herbs-spices-peppers-home-garden

Picture: Wikimedia

Flavour: Refreshing and sharp

Perfect for: Salads, desserts and drinks

How to harvest: Pinch off sprigs as you need them

Thyme

Extremely easy to care for and easy to grow, Thyme is the perfect herb for those who like to cook a variety of meals.

Picture: Wikimedia

Picture: Wikimedia

Flavour: Spicy and savoury, clove like

Perfect for: Flavouring meats, stews and soups

How to harvest: Simply cut off pieces of the stem as you need it.

Dill

Extremely easy to care for, this strong flavoured herb is perfect for adding flavour to fish dishes.

Picture: Wikimedia

Picture: Wikimedia

Flavour: clean, anise, subtle lemon hints

Perfect for: Providing a tangy addition to pickles, salad dressing and fish dishes.

How to harvest: Don’t start harvesting dill until it’s at least 12 inches tall, and never take more than one-third of the leaves at any one time.

Building an outdoor herb garden

Below is a video from Wickes, which will show how to build your own outdoor raised herb garden. Remember in Winter time – especially – in Scotland extra care will be needed to prevent the plants being harmed by frost.

The tools you’ll need for the outdoor herb garden:

• Spade
• Hand saw
• Garden Fork
• Power drill
• Trowel
• Watering Can

The materials you’ll need:

• 3 x sleepers (one will need to be halved)
• 8 x 150mm coach screws
• soil
• peat free compost
• wood preserver (for the sleepers)

Most of the herbs listed in this article are great for growing outdoors but should you wish to try other varieties then Rosemary, Coriander and fennel are other great herbs you can try.

Remember to pot up your outdoor plants and bring them inside for winter if you want them to survive.

Now all you have to do is get out there and grow some delicious herbs. Good luck.

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