If you’re new to growing your own food, a windowsill herb garden is an ideal place to start!
Growing herbs from seed is a low-cost way to have fresh herbs for your cooking, with one packet of seeds usually containing enough for a few pots of herbs. And it’s really easy to grow herbs from seed – you don’t even need a garden to do it. Lots of herbs will grow very well on a windowsill indoors.
Growing herbs indoors is also an ideal gardening project to get the kids involved with, because it’s simple to do and they will see results very quickly.
Read on for easy instructions on planting and caring for your own windowsill herb garden.
The best herbs to grow indoors
When it comes to which herbs to grow from seed indoors, you’re really spoilt for choice.
You could focus on growing the herbs that you already use the most in your cooking, or try something completely new.
Chives are easy to grow indoors, as are other herbs like basil, coriander, parsley, mint, sage, chervil, and tarragon. All of these varieties are ideal candidates for a windowsill herb garden.
Some herbs are trickier to grow from seed, because they are either slow-growing, or take a long time to germinate. Rosemary, thyme, bay and oregano all fall into this category. With these varieties it’s a better idea to buy a small plant from the garden centre, and grow it on at home.
Indoor herb garden kit
You don’t need lots of equipment for a windowsill herb garden, but there are a few basic supplies that will help to make it a success.
You will need:
- A plant pot or container for each variety of seed – these can be as basic or as pretty as you like!
- General purpose compost – check out our guide to the best compost for pots for product advice
- Packets of herb seeds
- Plant labels and a marker pen
- If you’re not using plant pot covers, you will also need saucers to put under your pots for catching excess water.
Planting your herb seeds
Sowing herb seeds is so quick and easy.
The first step is to fill your pot with compost until it’s not quite full.
Next, sprinkle your seeds evenly on top. I think it’s easier to do this if you pour a small amount of seeds into the palm of your hand, then take little pinches of seed from there.
Once you’ve put your seeds into your pot, sprinkle a little bit of compost on top of them to cover them up.
Don’t forget to label your pots, it’s so easy to forget which is which!
The last step is to water your pots, and pop them on a sunny windowsill.
How long do herbs take to grow?
The speed of growth will depend on the variety of herb you choose, but most herbs grow really quickly. You should start to see seedlings about a week after planting, and you can expect to be harvesting your herbs within about a month.
The temperature of your windowsill and the amount of light it receives will have an effect on how quickly your herbs grow.
How to have a continuous supply of herbs
So you’ve planted your herb seeds, and soon you’ll have a lovely pot full of fresh herbs to harvest. But what if you want to be able to harvest your herbs over a longer period of time?
To have a steady supply of herbs that are ready to harvest, all you need to do is plant a pot of seeds for each type of herb every week or so. This will give you a pot that’s ready to pick every week, and also avoid you having more herbs ready than you need.
Looking after your windowsill herb garden
Herbs are pretty low-maintenance, so you won’t need to spend ages taking care of them, but there are a few things you can do to help your plants thrive.
Try to find a sunny windowsill for your herb pots. A bit of shade is fine, but if you can give them access to bright natural light, that will really help with germination and growth.
Make sure you water your herbs regularly, particularly if they’re on a warm and sunny windowsill. A quick and easy way to check if your plants are thirsty is to stick your finger a couple of inches into the soil – if it feels dry, it’s definitely time to give your plants a drink.
Tips for harvesting herbs
So, you’ve got a bumper crop of herbs to harvest – hurrah! But how do you do this without killing the plants?
There’s definitely a right and a wrong way to harvest your herbs. Little and often is the way to go.
Let your plants get nice and bushy, then pick a handful of leaves at a time, leaving plenty of stems intact. Harvesting in this way will encourage the plants to develop new growth.
Don’t chop everything off in one go and leave bare stalks, as that will almost certainly kill the plant.
For herbs that grow their leaves in clumps, like coriander, chives and parsley, you want to be picking the bigger, outer leaves first, working inwards towards the centre of the plant.
For herbs that have upright stems, like basil, oregano, rosemary and mint, cut off individual stems and strip the leaves off.
And that’s all there is to growing your own windowsill herb garden. If you plant a variety of seeds, you’ll soon have lots of fresh herbs to use in your cooking, in tea, or even as a garnish for cocktails!
And if you’ve got a garden or outdoor space, you could also try growing herbs outdoors. Most varieties of herb will be happy in a sunny, sheltered spot. It’s a good idea to check the growing instructions on the seed packet or plant label to make sure you’re giving your plants the best chance to thrive.
More inspiration on growing herbs indoors
This video I made for Mail+ takes you through the process of planting a windowsill herb garden step-by-step.
For lots of ideas on creating an indoor herb garden, check out my Pinterest board.
And for some light-hearted fun, my list of vegetable puns and vegetable jokes has a whole section of herb-themed silliness.
And if you’re feeling ready to branch out into growing other vegetables, my post on quick and easy vegetables to grow is worth a look!