Few things make your home-cooking more delicious than the use of fresh herbs. Oregano for that pasta bake. Fresh mint for cocktails. Parsley for that garden pasta salad. And you don’t have to live in the country with a kitchen garden to make it happen either. Apartment herb gardens are simple to start, easy to maintain, and don’t require a lot of space to cultivate, just a few containers and some sunshine!
Read on for our step-by-step guide to creating your own balcony herb garden:
Check the sunlight
Before you plant any herbs, make sure your location is suitable. Most herbs require at least four to six hours of full sunlight. If you’re on the north side of your apartment building, or your patio is shaded by other buildings, growing an herb garden could be tricky. Check the sunlight on your balcony throughout the day, and make sure you have at least a four-hour window of direct sun before you get started.
Select your herbs
While it is possible to grow your herb garden from seeds, you’ll have an easier time (and fresh herbs sooner) if you purchase starter plants from your local nursery or garden center. You’ll also have an easier time knowing which herb is which! Choose herbs you know you’ll use. If you like Italian dishes, for example, then oregano, rosemary and thyme are natural choices. More into salad-type dishes and soups? Then perhaps some parsley, dill and chives would be ideal.
You won’t need much to get started — just a selection of pots and potting soil. If you think you’ll want to bring your herb garden indoors once the weather gets cold, however, be sure to select planters with saucers or other features that will prevent mess and water spills inside. How you plant your herbs is up to you — you can put them all in one or two large planters, or give each type its individual pot.
Consider how much water to use
Not all herbs require the same amount of water. Be sure to research the water needs of the herbs you plant, and water accordingly. Some will need to remain moist all the time , like basil, while others, including rosemary and thyme, need well-drained soil. Keep an eye on your balcony herb garden. If the edges of plant leaves start to wilt, that’s a sign they need more water.
Harvest with care
As with watering, different herbs require different care when it comes to harvesting. You can easily kill an herb, for example, by harvesting too soon or too aggressively. Again, take time to understand the requirements of individual plants. You can harvest oregano, for example, by snipping leaves anywhere from the plant. And chives can even be cut down to soil level. Other varieties, however, may do best if you only harvest from the top of the plant.
Want to add even more options for fresh ingredients to your balcony herb garden? Consider planting produce that will thrive in pots, like tomatoes, strawberries and even some types of lettuce. Apartment gardens are an easy way to bring the beauty (and flavors) of the outdoors into a small space!