There are plenty of good reasons to grow your own kitchen herb garden. You can improve meals for your family with fresh sage and oregano.
Dry your own herbs to save money on store-bought seasonings, or cultivate plants for soothing teas and balms. Growing a herb garden is a wonderful hobby with lasting benefits for the whole household.
How to Start Growing a Kitchen Herb Garden
Before you dive into buying plants, you'll need to do a little planning to make the most of your DIY herb garden:
Most herbs need plenty of light, so you'll need a sunny space for your plants. South or west-facing kitchen windows offer about five or six hours of direct sunlight per day in warmer months.
Consider grow lights if your preferred location doesn't provide enough sun.
The consistent temperatures in your home allow you to grow herbs year-round. Most plants need a temperature range of 50 to 70 degrees to thrive, which is part of the reason sunny kitchen herb gardens are so easy to maintain.
You'll also need shelves and other surfaces to support various ceramic, terracotta or plastic pots in varying sizes, depending on what you choose to grow.
Hanging planters are another option in smaller kitchens where space is at a premium.
Are you mostly concerned with fresh herbs for your meals, or are you looking to dry, freeze, or infuse them for long-term use?
Some plants are best used with leaves pinched right off the stem, while others are more potent when dried, so determining what you want to do with them is important.
Some plants grow best from seeds, while others thrive and propagate easier as cuttings. Fully-grown plants are the fastest way to get the benefits of your kitchen herb garden, but all of these methods have their drawbacks and rewards.
Choosing Plants for your DIY Herb Garden
Once you have a location, purpose and plan for your organic gardening adventure, you can choose the herbs you want to cultivate.
As you shop, take note of each plant's needs in terms of soil, water and light, so you can put them in the right pot as well as the perfect spot in your kitchen.
Below, you'll find a list of useful, easy-to-grow herbs to fill your sunny windowsills.
Used fresh or dried, bay leaves enhance other spices and add subtle flavor to a wide variety of dishes. Bay grows in full sun as well as indirect light.
Just remember to thin out your plants when needed to give them plenty of airflow.
Both Italian and sweet purple basil are ideal for organic gardening. Easy to start from seed and grow in a pot, this plant needs moist soil and indirect sunlight.
You can also try fresh or dried basil leaves as a natural home remedy to soothe digestive issues as well as coughs.
Keep this herb on hand for fish and poultry dishes as well as beverages and baking recipes. Lemon Verbena is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
People often use lemon verbena for joint and muscle pain and stomach problems. These plants require frequent watering and full sun.
Chamomile grows easily from seed, and it needs to dry out a bit between waterings. Including this plant in your DIY herb garden can help you combat menstrual cramps and insomnia with homemade tea.
You can also add chamomile leaves and flowers to salads or create topical lotions to soothe diaper rash and eczema.
Terracotta pots are ideal when growing cilantro because these containers provide more airflow. This plant requires plenty of drainage, too.
Cilantro complements a range of cuisines, and many use it to aid digestion and stimulate appetite.
You'll need a larger pot, about 12" deep and around 8" wide, to accommodate this plant, but otherwise, dill is easy to grow in a kitchen herb garden.
Whole or crushed dill is a flavorful addition to home-baked bread and vegetable dishes, and of course, it's great for pickling.
Give them plenty of sunshine and rotate their pots for consistent growth, and lavender plants will thrive in your kitchen.
A light dusting of ground English or French culinary lavender enhances both savory and sweet recipes, but adding too much can overwhelm your dish.
Dried lavender has a wonderfully soothing scent, perfect for sachets, potpourri, balms, and lotions.
It's actually better to grow peppermint and spearmint in containers, as this herb spreads quickly and can smother other plants in outdoor gardens.
Mint has a variety of uses in the kitchen and serves as an herbal remedy for heartburn and nausea. This handy plant also has antiseptic properties.
Once infused in oil, mint is a wonderful topical treatment for muscle aches.
Low-maintenance oregano doesn't need much to thrive indoors. Opt for a larger pot and water the plant when the soil feels dry.
While this herb can grow in low light, you'll get stronger flavors if it receives full sun. Oregano has a long history of use as a folk remedy for gastrointestinal and respiratory problems.
Yummy and fragrant, rosemary is an essential culinary herb that grows indoors with ease. This plant needs full sun and is drought tolerant, but you should avoid overwatering.
Known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, rosemary is often used to boost the immune system, soothe muscle pain, and improve circulation.
This herb needs 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily, which may require a supplemental grow light. However, having fresh sage at your fingertips lets you perk up poultry and stuffing recipes.
As a traditional herbal treatment, sage is used to treat menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, as well as abdominal problems, memory issues, and infections.
Dried, chopped or used whole, thyme is a popular herb for sauces and stews. Full sun and a clay pot that allows soil to dry out between waterings will keep your thyme happy and healthy.
Packed with Vitamins A and C, this herb has multiple health benefits.
Planting and Maintaining Your DIY Herb Garden
Whether you're starting from seeds, cuttings or live plants, you'll need a good potting soil to allow your herbs to thrive. For plants that need more drainage, you can mix peat moss and sand into the soil.
You might also consider adding small pebbles to the bottom of the pot to keep roots from getting too moist. Root systems vary among different herbs, so pay careful attention to potting requirements.
Plants with roots that spread out need larger pots, while other herbs are fine in smaller vessels. Make sure to follow light, fertilization, and watering guides for each plant so your herb garden will flourish.
Pruning and Harvesting
Herbaceous annual plants like dill, basil, and cilantro benefit from frequent pruning, so you should trim the top few inches every few weeks to encourage new growth.
Cut perennials such as rosemary, lavender, and sage back only once or twice a year. Make sure to remove blossoms on all your herbs to redirect growth toward the plant's stems and leaves.
Creating DIY Natural Home Remedies: Lotions and BalmsWhile your kitchen herb garden will yield plenty of ingredients for meals, you can also try making your own natural home remedies.
Add fresh or dry herbs to olive oil to create a flavorful infusion, or combine them with coconut or jojoba carrier oils for topical use.
Both cold and hot infusions are effective, but the cold method takes about 4-6 weeks, while using a slow cooker or crock-pot to heat the oil cuts the time down to 12-24 hours.
Strain your oil with cheesecloth to remove the plant matter and pour it into an airtight jar.
Dried Herbal Teas
Air dry your herbs or use a food dehydrator to speed things up. For either method, you'll need to rinse off your plants to ensure there's no soil or pests on the stems and leaves.
Follow the directions on your food dehydrator, or assemble small bundles of your herbs and hang them in a warm, dry place.
Cover them with paper to keep drying plants free from dust. Once dried, use a grinder to create and customize your herbal tea.
Balms and Salves
Once you've created herb-infused oils, you can combine them with shea butter or beeswax pellets and make your own lotions or lip balm.
You'll need a double boiler to melt your ingredients, as well as a blender and clean glass jars to mix and store your herbal remedies.
If you're forgoing store-bought cleaning products for more natural solutions, vinegar is your best friend. Adding antimicrobial herbs like lavender, thyme, or mint cuts down the pungent vinegar odor, creating a mixture that freshens as it cleans.
You'll need to cover your dry herbs with vinegar and let them steep for about four weeks, but you can make the solution in large batches and dilute it for different uses.
Wrapping Up Creating Your Own Kitchen Herb Garden
For many people, caring for plants in a DIY herb garden is a rewarding experience all by itself. Cultivating useful culinary herbs and plants for natural home remedies.
Helping to find ways to make your own natural health, beauty, and cleaning solutions is simply an added bonus. Indoor organic gardening also lets you save money at the grocery store.
This helps you in knowing exactly what's inside everything you create, and that's a lasting benefit that's hard to beat. Now you know it's benefits, start growing your own kitchen herb garden.