Fascinated by how top chefs always have the freshest herbs? And also frustrated by how fast your store-bought herbs turn to sludge? Our answer — grow your own kitchen herb garden. We explore ways to prep, care for and reap the rewards of a well-grown harvest with this guide. No matter your experience level, we cover the basics and include a few extra tips and tricks to help you along the way.
Harnessing the power of herbs
When it comes to enjoying the purest taste sensations that nature has to offer, herbs do trump them all. Whether you need a savoury aromatic or a fresh menthol addition, herbs provide it all. And by having a kitchen herb garden at your convenience, your ingredients, garnishes and topped up tipples will never be the same again.
To establish some background knowledge, we have a wide variety of guides at the ready. Search by your experience level, food and drink ideas, or by season (spring or winter). We also tuck podcasts into our gardening, so be sure to check out our kitchen herbs podcast. Once you have a better understanding of herbs, get ready to start on your garden.
Selecting your herbs
First things first — select herbs that you regularly would eat. You don’t need to worry about taking on an exotic herb you wouldn’t normally use. We break down the herbs, flavours and their uses to help you make your herb garden decision.
Tastes like liquorice and cloves. Use with tomato, mushrooms, potatoes, chicken, vinaigrettes. Add at the end of your cooking.
Has a light onion flavour. Use it with eggs, potatoes, salads, sauces, and vinaigrettes, or as garnish.
A highly debatable herb — some claim it tastes soapy, others delightfully fresh! (It’s all genetic). Use in spicy foods like Mexican or Indian cuisines.
A tangy, pungent taste. Used in Mediterranean cooking, with both the seeds and greens.
Like Oregano, but a sweeter taste. Great for stuffing, beans, carrots, salads, and eggs. Use in fish, lamb and vegetable dishes.
Menthol sensation and can be peppery. Use in lamb, fish and salad dishes. Versatile for sweet and savoury flavours.
Earthy (similar to marjoram). Use in meat, tomato sauces and alongside lemon.
Clean and peppery, yet earthy. Great for almost all savoury dishes when used fresh.
A strong, piney taste. Perfect for chicken, beans, and savoury bread. Be moderate with use, to not overpower your dish.
Earthy, slightly peppery taste (with hints of mint, eucalyptus, and lemon). Use for pork, chicken, sauces, and stuffings. Also, be moderate in use. Note: fresh and dry sage have different flavours.
Bittersweet, hints of anise and fennel. Use alongside tomato, mushrooms, potatoes, chicken, and vinaigrettes. Use on its own.
Minty, light lemony taste. Use whole sprigs in soups and stews. Add leaves to almost any savoury dish.
Pick your starter pack
If you are new to growing herbs, we recommend you begin with our six-pack herb seedlings or our assorted herb pots in 12cm and 17cm to avoid germination from seeds. If you are more experienced in growing plants from seed, have a go with our available seed packets.
Creating the best growing space
Herbs will love being wherever there is full sun, but will not fare well in extreme heat. Locate where you have semi-shaded areas in hotter regions and seasons.
Preparing and planning your kitchen herb garden
Trying to grow plants with different watering needs in the same containers will result in inconsistent growth. Group rosemary, lavender, and thyme together — they thrive in dry soils. Mint, chives, and basil, however, prefer generous, regular watering. Plant them accordingly for an optimised kitchen herb garden.
If you plan to grow your herbs outdoors, keep in mind their growing tendencies. All mint family plants easily take over a space. (Which is great for mint lovers!).
Once you decide on your herbs and groupings, select your container or growing space. Go for larger pots to accommodate for both root growth and adequate drainage.
You can opt for standard soils and potting mixes. Herbs like thyme and oregano, however, do well in a blend of well-draining mediums and standard soil mixtures. When filling your pots, leave about 1.5cm between the soil and the pot rim to allow for settling and watering.
Be sure to add fertiliser for supported growth, every two weeks. Not sure on which fertiliser to use? Explore our guide to fertilisers. Also make sure to rotate your pots throughout the week to ensure the plant gets even exposure to sunlight.
Ingenious indoor ideas
While traditional herb gardens are just pots on the windowsill in the kitchen, there are fun and functional set-ups to try. Place them on a shelf, hang them from the ceiling or on the wall as a space saver with a vertical hanging garden. Or, develop a space just for them. We love the idea of customised tabletop planters or runoff areas from your sink to save water. Remember — wherever you place them, they need good air circulation but should not be placed in a draft.
Awesome outdoor ideas
Classic terracotta pots near the back door always create a winning look. Also, try window boxes outside your kitchen and decorative balcony railing planters for smaller bunches.
Pruning and harvesting
The most exciting part — enjoying your herbs! In addition to gathering fresh ingredients at your leisure, some pruning is required. We suggest trimming your herb growth at least once a week to ensure a larger and longer harvest. Also, never let them flower. This means trimming the longer stems that are about to develop flower buds.
Snip them with your handy tools as soon as you see blooms, to redirect the growing energy towards leafy foliage instead.
May your kitchen herb garden bring you many seasons of happy herbs. For more advice, contact our team for gardening care tips, techniques and recommended products.