Kitchen Herb Gardening Article -
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Kitchen Herb Gardening

Learn how to grow an indoor herb garden.

Herbs are easy to grow indoors. All they need is sunlight and warmth. If your kitchen windowsill isn't the ideal spot for growing herbs, branch out into other rooms because herbs add fragrance and a bright splash of color wherever you plant them.

What to Grow: A Matter of Taste

The hardest part of planting an herb garden is choosing which ones to grow. Why not simply go with what you'll eat?

Do you like Italian food?  Grow parsley, oregano, and basil. If you cook a lot of Mexican, Indian, and Southeast Asian dishes, add cilantro to your garden. And how about rosemary for marinades, sage for roast turkey, and mint for iced tea?

    Seeds or Seedlings?

    You can grow herbs from seed packets, or get young herb seedlings in small pots from your local nursery.

    If you choose seedlings, check the bottoms of the pots to make sure roots aren't growing through the drainage holes. This indicates that the plant is rootbound and might not grow well even after it's repotted.

    We've put together a chart listing easy-to-grow herbs, the best ways to start growing them, and recipes for each.

      Herb Varieties, Growing Tips and Recipes


      Start with seeds or seedlings. See Getting Started below.

      You'll Need:

      Soil: Use a mixture of potting soil, peat moss, and perlite. This comes ready-mixed in most garden stores.
      Containers: Wooden, plastic, or clay window boxes and pots come in all sizes, shapes, and colors at your local garden store. Just for fun, look around the house for quirky containers like an old teapot or cup. Punch drainage holes into their bases and plant an assortment of herbs and edible flowers such as nasturtiums.
      Sunlight: All of the herbs listed above need four to six hours of sunlight every day. If you're short on natural light, try grow lights.

        Getting Started

        • Before planting seeds in soil, soak them in water or place them between wet paper towels and into a plastic bag for 2 to 4 hours
        • Fill containers with potting soil to 3/4 inch below the rim. If planting seeds, sprinkle seeds over the soil and cover them with approximately 1/4 inch of additional soil. If you are planting a variety of seeds in one pot (or in a long window box), designate areas of the container for each herb. Use garden markers to keep track of the plants
        • Water your garden thoroughly and place the container in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. Be sure to water again whenever the soil feels dry to the touch
        • When the herbs start to emerge, move the container to their sunny spot. Again, water them whenever the soil feels dry. A spray bottle is a good way to add moisture without knocking over the delicate seedlings
        • If a large number of seeds germinate, use kitchen shears to snip unwanted plants at soil level, rather than pulling them out of the soil. This thinning helps avoid overcrowding, which prevents the herbs from growing well
        • If you're planting young herb seedlings, dig a hole and bury the roots in the soil. If you are planting multiple seedlings in one container, plant them 2 to 3 inches apart. The seedling container can go right into a sunny spot
        • Once your herbs are established and growing, get in there and harvest them. Leave at least a sprig of each herb so that the plant can continue to grow. Trimming herbs encourages them to grow bushy--and gives you the perfect excuse to cook with your freshly grown herbs

          Jun. 19, 2009 1:33 pm
          thanx for the tip and advice! hope i can grow some herbs in our house when i get back in the philippines!keep up the good work!
          Jun. 27, 2009 3:24 am
          I love herbs and have 5 or 6 out in our back yard where sun shines on them part of day. They are growing beautifully. I love going out back and snipping them to cook with. Good advice on this page
          Jul. 22, 2009 7:41 pm
          i am sick of buying dried herbs and having low class meals. im just a beginner but i can tell the difference. im buying a whole bunch of seeds and planting a huge garden... cant wait. thanks for the advice! im bookmarking this page!
          Jul. 27, 2009 1:19 pm
          I'm very happy with this tips&advice. I'm going to have my own herbs. WOW.
          Aug. 17, 2009 5:48 am
          I planted a few herbs this year from seedlings that I purchased from Home Depot. It's amazing how much I've used them and how much $$ I've saved. I purchased just 1 container each of thyme, oregano, mint, basil & parsley for $3 each. The return on them has been incredible! I know a few friends who are constantly buying fresh herb packets from the grocery store for $3 each herb! (compare that to my one time investment of $3/herb!) I got one of the long rectangular windowsill planters & planted 4 of my herbs in there and have kept them out on my small deck. I'm actually getting ready to do a summer planting for a new set of herbs from seeds so that I can have some fresh dill & parsley & basil for the fall. I highly recommend growing your own herbs.
          Sep. 4, 2009 7:14 pm
          WONDERFUL! This website just gets better and better! I have been needing this advice. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
          Dec. 27, 2009 12:27 pm
          I have a lot of windows in my dining/kitchen area, I grow basil, parsley, lemon balm, rosemary, garlic chives, sage. Did you know you can make a sage rinse for brunettes and it colors the gray without all those chemicals from hair color? and you can make drinking soda from lemon balm? and just to add fresh herbs to all your cooking dishes. I love it. Thanks allrecipes for posting this herb subject.
          Jan. 12, 2010 7:40 pm
          i love putting herbs and spices to my food when im cooking especially turmeric in my soup or some potato dish coz its helps in a way in my asthma.
          Feb. 7, 2010 7:57 am
          Thanks for all of the great advice. I picked up a few packets of seeds last week. Ready to get started. I also picked up catnip seeds so my little indoor buddy can have a little treat as well as it helping her stay out of my patch.
          Feb. 14, 2010 5:27 pm
          Just what I wanted! Ann, I found you somewhere lastnight, with herbs and pictures, but I couldn't remember where, and here you are!! Great day. I also want a lettucce variety garden, I asked you several questions, but I still don't know how to find you. I sent an Email to AllRecipes hoping they can help me, but I didn't know your name till now, any hope for me?
          May 21, 2010 1:23 pm
          There are sooo many herbs out there, once you have 'mastered' the basics- above you can try even more. I love bergamont, lavender, lemon balm. All of which smell wonderful! It is lovely to be able to pick your own herbs ?
          May 28, 2010 10:55 am
          not really a comment, but question. Can I continue to grow herbs all winter long? I live in Pennsylvania and of course can have harsh winters. As long as i keep them in a well lighted warm area can i grow them all year long?
          Jun. 6, 2010 2:06 pm
          Hi tara, yes you can grow them all year, As long as you have at least 4 to 6 hours of sunlight (more like at least 6)most days, you keep them trimmed so they do not go to seed, keep the soil moist (not wet)and feed them (with like Miracle-Gro for indoor or potted plants)lightly once a week. If you do not have enough sunlight grow lights of different styles and sizes work well as long as you have a place to plug it in and to hang or place over top of plants. I hope this helps, happy growing, sherrbie
          Jun. 14, 2010 12:17 pm
          It is so wonderful to bring a little bit of the garden in each time I cook. Try throwing a combination of these herbs into an omlette - ooh la la!
          Jul. 21, 2010 10:36 am
          I have a feeling my cats will LOVE my herb garden! Anything I can do to discourage them from getting into it?
          Jul. 27, 2010 10:45 am
          Thanks Sherrbie, that was helpful! We grow tons of herbs, just not fennel, which i don't like. -Maura Kate
          Aug. 31, 2010 12:32 pm
          This is a nice site,very interesting I have been growing my herbs for some years now, when they get too big I share them with friends, I take seedlings and pot them, makes a nice gift.
          Sep. 1, 2010 9:18 am
          I have tried for several years to grow herbs. Whether seeds or seedlings, they never last indoors. I'm going to try grow lights. I had parsley outside and it grew but tasted bitter, not at all like what you get in a store. It was a seedling. Growing your own herbs sounds so good I've just gotto try again.
          Sep. 1, 2010 7:11 pm
          I love this web site. And I am interested in growing my own herbs. My question is, there are so many types of basil, sage, mint, and parsley, which are used the most? Please help me out. Thanks.
          Mar. 1, 2011 5:30 am
          I've started my own herb gardens, growing rosemary, oregano, sweet basil and thyme. It is worth the efforts. The taste of fresh herbs are fantastic compared to those dried ones. Besides gardening is a great way to de-stress
          Mar. 3, 2011 5:52 am
          I love to garden and this has helped me bring my green thumb inside for winter. I love the idea of having all kinds of odd shape containers! My window faces west so I should have plenty of sunlight. Happy cooking & growing....;-)
          May 19, 2011 9:36 am
          I'm growing herbs on my back deck. They are growing like weeds( thats a good thing!) What I would like to know is... What is the best way to store the extra herbs. Can they be frozen or should I dry them out, which way is best, in the oven or in the sun? Any suggestions?
          Jun. 24, 2011 6:56 am
          I like fresh herbs also but don't know how to cut properly so they continue to grow and come back. Like chives or rosemary. Do you just cut at the bottom. This is my first year trying a few differnt kinds. I have them outside, thanks. Any suggestions
          Jul. 30, 2011 4:11 pm
          I'm in the same predicament as Beegirl, I have so much parsley I can't use it all, how best to dry it so I can use it over the winter months?
          Oct. 8, 2011 7:51 am
          We always grow basil on the deck in the spring/summer (we live in MA) but have not had success bringing it inside in the fall/winter. However, I'll try the "from seed" approach and see how that works. I appreciate the guidance. Store-bought herbs are so expensive this approach makes a lot of sense. Also I could use some advice about drying methods for the various herbs particularly basil, oregano and parsley. I'll watch for replies. Thanks.
          Jan. 5, 2012 11:31 pm
          Great! Thank you.
          May 5, 2012 7:31 pm
          Good hints.. Might give this a try, if I can figure out how to keep the cat out of it!
          May 27, 2012 10:24 pm
          Thanks for the herb growing tips. I am making plans to start up my garden right now!
          Jun. 29, 2012 12:18 am
          This is my first year planting herbs. I even started them all from seed. Basil being the easiest to grow, then oregano & parsley. Cilantro and rosemary are more difficult, but I have a few surviving. It is so exciting watching them mature!
          Aug. 18, 2012 2:15 pm
          wish this was printable, without all the extra stuff.
          Aug. 19, 2012 3:45 pm
          I can't seem to keep my Rosemary thriving...they are not dead and brown. What did I do wrong?
          Aug. 19, 2012 3:46 pm
          shoot, they are dead I mean
          Nov. 13, 2012 10:00 am
          Thanks for the info. I use a lot of Dill Weed and Dill seed, or would if I could find them. Can I grow dill in a pot on my back porch too?
          May 29, 2015 9:52 am
          I have thirteen six to eight inch clay pots on a bakers rack five shelves tall by a large French window in my kitchen. Now, the hardest ones to grow are Cilantro, German Thyme and Fernleaf Dill. All the other ones seem to be doing real good like Peppermint, Lavender, Bee Balm, Hot Spicy Oregano, Curled Parsley, Garden Sage, Greek Oregano, Flat Parsley, Sweet Basil and Rosemary. I started all these out as a plant that I bought at a local gardening center. These live plants have a stronger flavor to them than the dried type in the bottles that you buy in the store. So add less to not over spice your recipes. Thanks.
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