Grow your own indoor herbs

With temperatures dropping and outdoor gardening activity slowing down, it's the perfect time to retreat indoors and work on a potted herb garden.

Herbs which grow well in pots include basil, chives, cress, mint, oregano, marjoram and coriander.

Growing herbs from seed at a cost of about one cent each, is infinitely more economical, not to mention satisfying than buying a plant. The taste of fresh herbs is hard to beat and a definite plus is your home is infused with subtle fragrances.

  • Make sure you have a sunny window sill for starters.

  • Fill your pots with a fine seed-raising mix. Don't use garden soil as it's full of weed seeds and so it will be difficult to distinguish weed from herb seedlings.

  • Sit the pot on a saucer containing some gravel or sand for drainage. Give it a really good watering then leave for a day to let the soil come to room temperature.

  • The following day, scatter a few seeds over the seed mix surface, and cover these with a very thin layer of more seed-raising mix, gently tamping mix down.

  • Cover the pots with a sheet of glass and then newspaper, or tie a carrier bag over each pot with a rubber band, checking it daily to ensure the seed mix remains moist.

  • Use a fine sprayer or mister to water the seeds so as not to disturb them.

After a couple of weeks, tiny seedlings will emerge.

  • Remove the pot covering and keep watering with a sprayer.

  • When seedlings are about 5cm tall, thin out the seedlings, removing the weaker plants by carefully teasing them out so those remaining are evenly spaced and have room to grow.

With careful watering and a fortnightly feed of a diluted liquid feed, you will soon be plucking leaves for teas, soups, stews and salads within two to three months.

When the herbs start to flower either continually pluck these out to encourage continued leaf growth or let them run their course to seed if you want to collect these for further planting.

First published: May 2010

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