How to Plant a Kitchen Herb Garden

Beginner's guide to planting a kitchen garden

person watering herbs growing in pot on kitchen window sill,
Martin Poole/Photodisc/Getty Images

 Fresh herbs make even the best chef's cooking better. It's easy to have all the flavor of an herb garden right on your windowsill. 

Choose the best location

Your herb garden can truly grow anywhere in your home A sunny window works well, as long as you have at least 4 hours of direct sunlight in the window for most herbs. This isn't always easy to do. If you do have a sunny window, turn your herbs every 3 days or so to keep them from growing unevenly.

If you, like many indoor gardeners, don't have enough natural light, you can still grow just fine, with the addition of a grow light. These lights are available online or at your local garden center. Position them to light the area over your herbs for at least 4-6 hours a day, and your garden will thrive. 

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For lighting, you will need: 

  • A window with direct sunlight for at least 4 hours(6 is better) a day
  • Use a grow light if you do not have adequate natural lighting

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Choose your herbs

The herbs you use the most will be the ones that work best in your kitchen garden. There is no use growing herbs that you don't like the taste of, or you don't commonly use in recipes. 

5 Best Herbs For A Kitchen Garden

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A trick to having beautiful herbs on the windowsill, is to plant two sets of the same plants. Then, you can rotate a fresh herb to the window when needed, and leave it's twin to go back to the optimal growing location.

 

Choose and Prepare the Pots

Growing any herb in a container garden means taking  special care to choose and prepare the proper pot. Herbs are fast growing, and can fill a pot with roots in less than one growing season. Choose pots that can drain well.

Fill your pot with a potting mix. Potting mix will not compact over time, and is designed for container growing.

Leave 1/2 inch of soil between the tot of the pot and the potting mix. This will allow for the slight settling that is normal when first potting a plant, and give room for watering. 

Plant your herb seeds, or transplant your herb plants, and water thoroughly. Allow to drain until the pot no longer drips, and place on the windowsill with a tray underneath to catch any dripping water.  

Care For Your Kitchen Garden

Now your herbs are planted, they need little care. Most importantly, remember to snip or prune back your herbs often. Keeping them pruned back means more harvest for you, and sturdier herbs. Try to cut the new growth at least once a week, and any long stems as they appear. I have a basil plant that has grown all winter, and the stems actually have grown a bit woody-with no leaves. I cut the plant back very hard (meaning all the way to the bottom), and now there is a fresh set of stems and leaves to harvest! 

Turn your herb pots regularly, especially if they are growing towards a sunny window.

Not only does this keep them growing evenly, this keeps one side from dying back due to lack of light. 

Keep yoru herbs watered regularly. I prefer water from the bottom if at all possible. Do this by placing small gravel in a tray and placing your herb pots onto this tray. Fill the tray to the top with water once a week, and your herbs will absorb what they require from the bottom of the  pots. Then, the water that remains below the level of the gravel will provide additional humidity for your windowsill garden. 

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Observe your herb garden closely. All plants take on a different appearance when they are under stress, i.e. need water. Know how your plants look when they are healthy, and you will notice issues before they become larger problems.