Herbs are one cooking ingredient that definitely taste better fresh, and if you don’t want to spend your cooking time going out in the rain and picking slugs off the tarragon, it’s best to grow them inside. That way, they’re ready to hand whenever you need them and you know they’re clean and pesticide-free.
Ready to get started? Here’s how….
The hardiest herbs for growing indoors all year round are oregano, chives, mint, rosemary, and thyme.
If you don’t have any in the garden, start with small plants from a garden centre, and pot them up in containers with potting compost. In summer, you can add basil, coriander, dill and parsley as well, but these don’t winter well and will probably have to be discarded at the end of the season and replaced the following year.
The life of supermarket basil plants can be extended if you split them and re-pot the individual plants. Alternatively, if you have a glut of summer basil, dry the leaves for winter use or make homemade pesto.
If you’re leaving your herbs in place all year round, make sure the leaves aren’t touching a window as they may be affected by frost.
For chives, separate a small clump from a garden plant once they’ve stopped growing at the end of the season, and pot it up. Leave the pot outside until the leaves have completely died back, although watch out for frosts. Take the pot indoors and put it in a cool dark spot such as a garage for a week, then move it to a sunny windowsill to stimulate new growth.
Keep compost moist, and make sure the plants aren’t getting too hot.
For sage, the best way to start is with a tip cutting from an outdoor plant.
Start by cutting off a young shoot a few centimetres below the leaf crown (the bushy tip). Remove the lower leaves, retaining the top three pairs, then plant the cutting in potting compost. Take care to keep the compost moist until the plant has grown sturdy roots.
You can also start a tip cutting by putting the shoot into water then potting it. Sage likes to grow indoors, but will need a sunny windowsill.
With bushy herbs such as rosemary, pinch back new shoots to stop the plants going leggy. Picking sprigs off for cooking will also help, although never reduce the plant by more than about a third.
Remove flower buds from plants, to keep the leaves growing.
Use pots with good drainage, and if you’re putting them on a windowsill don’t forget to put a saucer underneath.
If taking cuttings or separating smaller plants from large clumps, pot up several to give the best chance of success.
If your plants are in the kitchen, you want them to look stylish. We love:
1. Raspberry herb pots, Burgon & Ball
These pretty raspberry coloured herb pots will add a pop of colour to your windowsill and will ensure your fresh herbs are close to hand. Designed by Sophie Conran for Burgon & Ball, the set contains three pots and a tray. £14.95, available from Annabel James.
2. Word herb pots, Tesco
Clean, simple and easy to fit into any colour scheme is this set of three ceramic herb pots, £12 from Tesco Direct. They’re even dishwasher safe, so you can sanitise them between plants.
3. Zinc pots, Anjo
A contemporary set of zinc plant pots will add a stylish touch to your windowsill. Can be used outside, too. £14.95 for a set of three from Anjo.
(Top image credit: Shutterstock/merc67)