If you constantly find yourself dashing off to the supermarket for a new pot of basil or chives for your kitchen, you should maybe consider growing herbs indoors. It isn't so difficult and the rewards and convenience of having your own fresh herbs at home far outweighs the growing process itself.
Below is a list of sure fire steps that you can take to guarantee great results in your kitchen's tiny garden. Tips on watering, feeding and positioning are, of course, vital to the well being of herbs and plants in general but we'll also address when to do so and for how long; as doing this at the wring time can lead to wilting and, in worst cases, the diseasing and death of the you plants -and that's the last thing you want after weeks of careful preparation.
It's important to know how much sunlight your plants need per day as too much or too little could mean bad news for them. You are advised to position your plants in a place that will receive around five hours of direct sunlight per day -give or take an hour. The means that placing them in a corner of the kitchen that isn't exposed too much light in the day is a no no. Try to get it as near to the window as you can, in a position that you know gets a bit of sun.
On the other hand, if you have a south facing window, you might over expose the plants and cause them to wilt and eventually die -so take care.
Make sure that you grow herbs that get on well with others in the same pot. Growing basil and parsley in the same window box is OK and so is coriander, however, due to its dominant bush like form, something like thyme or rosemary may end up compromising the safety of this type of herb. Grow weaker, high yielding herbs together -like basil and coriander- and other, more bush like plants like bay and thyme in another to avoid this.
There is an art to watering, as I'm sure your aware. First of all, most herbs like to drain water through fast so line the bottom of your pots (complete with wholes) with 1-2cm of broken up roofing tile, stones and or sand to stop the bottom area of the pot becoming over saturated and ensure quicker drainage, whilst giving the roots a very long lasting source of nutrients. Secondly, when watering, water the pot until water starts to drip out of the bottom of the pot and then wait until it stops, then repeat. This should give the plants enough water for at least 1-2 days (temperature providing) and make sure they aren't over-watered. Tip: when the first load of water is in the container below the plant, tip it away and then keep the second load. Thirdly, know when to water: you should be able to feel if the soil is dry, however this might not be the right time to water. The best way to check is to pick up the pot and gauge its weight -if it's heavy, it doesn't need water, if it's light, it needs water. If you're unsure of what defines 'heavy' then pick up the pot before and after you water it to gain an idea.
Don't water at mid-day or in the evening. Why? Watering your plants at mid day (when it's the hottest) can encourage fungal growth and also over heat the plants; causing them to wilt and become more susceptible to disease. Watering in the late evening or night time will keep your plants damp for a reasonable period and also encourage disease or fungal growth. The best time to water your herbs is in the morning: ensuring they are adequately hydrated during the hottest period of the day. On really hot days, where you might need to water twice, water the second time at about 4-5pm: this allows the water to be absorbed before the sun goes down.
Having dry plant leaves at midday and mid afternoon stops fungal growth and helps your plants to grow -despite how thirsty they look!
Depending on the size of the containers you grow your herbs in, you should feed them fairly soon after you plant them. For an average window pot, you might be looking at about 10 days or so, for larger containers comparably longer and smaller comparably shorter. Plans with a fast root spread will be compromised by tangling at the bottom of their pot and find it hard to get nourished; putting some feed in when you water them should help them.
Nothing ruins all your hard work like picking herbs at the wrong time. A young plant that has a small yield will either die or not produce leaves for a good while after you strip it. On the other hand, if you leave it too late, the leaves will lose flavour and become tough or even woody.
So only pick your herbs if the plant is able to sustain loosing a bit of its foliage. If you aren't able to use them quickly enough, you could always dry your herbs for later use or even give them away as a present.
Collect the seeds at the end of a plants life and grow them again next year, after a few years you will have a variety of herb that no one else has!