Once you start using fresh herbs in your kitchen, it’s very hard to stop. They add a freshness and additional level of flavour to every dish but people are often discouraged by their short shelf life. While there are a few ways to keep them fresh for longer, the easier route to take is to grow your own for a continuous supply. 

They’re easy to grow even on a windowsill as long as you have a deep pot with drainage holes. Try mixing garden soil with organic compost and ensuring they have ample sunlight for the best results. The biggest challenge with herbs is getting the watering right and each type has a different preference. Overwatering can lead to soggy, rotten roots and you’ll see the leaves turning yellow as a result. 

Also Read: Culinary Herbs: A Healthy Way To Enhance The Flavours Of Your Cooking

If you do nail the right amounts you’ll soon have our own herb garden to harvest from and the good news is that these plants love being pruned. Pruning encourages the young plants to grow more and branch out. Use a sharp knife or scissors to snip off the fresh leaves near the base of the stem to get the best growth.

Here are a few of the best starter herbs to try and how to care for each

1. Coriander 

One of the easiest herbs to grow, it needs very little help.

  • Soak the coriander seeds overnight in lukewarm water and plant under a thin layer of soil. 
  • Spray water on the soil and place it in a sunny spot. 
  • Within 35-40 days of planting, you will see shoots of coriander that can be plucked. 
  • Use this refreshing herb in your chutneys, to garnish your food and more.

2. Thyme

Well-drained soil is best for thyme, so consider adding a layer of rocks to your pot.

  • Plant the seeds 1-inch deep, cove and place your pot in a warm and sunny place. 
  • It takes a few months to grow into a fully established plant.
  • Keep watering the plant whenever the soil looks dry and don’t let the plant wilt. 
  • Harvest the leaves with the help of a knife.
  • The blossoms on this plant are also edible.

3. Chives

They like the cold so the best time to grow chives is around September to December.

  • They love water so make sure that the soil is always damp. 
  • After the flower blooms on the plant, ensure that you pick them so the seeds don’t spread throughout the garden. 
  • You can harvest your yield after six months of planting the seeds. 

4. Parsley

A fresh addition to salads and great as a topping for pasta.

  • Sow the seeds in mid-spring for a summer harvest and mid-summer for a winter harvest. 
  • To enhance germination, soak seeds overnight and plant them fairly close together as they flourish in clumps. 
  • It has a long germination period, around three to four weeks, so be patient. Picking parsley often helps it grow.
  • Be sure not to over-prune as removing the main stem could kill the plant.

5. Rosemary

Rosemary has a strong aroma and flavour and is generally used in Mediterranean cuisine.

  • Usually propagated by cuttings rather than seeds, rosemary can be easier to grow. 
  • It’s low maintenance so this perennial, woody shrub will thrive for years with little help. 
  • It prefers lots of sunlight and well-drained alkaline soil. 
  • Prune it regularly so that the plant doesn’t get spindly. 

6. Oregano

A must-have for Italian food, this is a great indoor herb.

  • Plant the seeds indoors and then move them outside once sprouted. 
  • Direct sunlight is preferred so find a sunny spot.
  • Encourage growth by regularly pruning or trimming the leaves. 

7. Basil

Another Italian staple, this is an easy-grow herb that can add freshness to any dish.

  • Plant the seeds in well-drained soil.
  • Ensure the plant gets a lot of direct sunlight - at least 6 hours a day.
  • If the weather gets cold, bring the pot inside, basil can’t withstand the cold. 
  • To harvest, just pluck leaves as desired.