Houseplants

Creating a Herb Garden in an Urban Environment

Creating a Herb Garden in an Urban Environment
Michelle Tether
Written by Michelle Tether

There are so many reasons to grow your own herbs. Just take a look at the featured image, what a lovely idea. They look beautiful, smell wonderful and are endlessly useful in the kitchen. Having an ever-growing supply means rarely having to buy expensive bunches from the green grocer and they’re always fresh it’s a great way of cutting down your household spending. Most herbs are very ornamental and make perfect houseplants so anyone can find a spot at home to grow their own herbs and if you have a little balcony space, or perhaps a little garden, then all the better.

Try some of the hardy varieties listed below and enjoy their fragrance and flavour.

Sourcing Herb Plants to Grow at Home

Try some of the hardy varieties listed below and enjoy their fragrance and flavour.

Common herbs can usually be purchased as seedlings from nurseries and garden centres and are an easy and fairly inexpensive way of starting out. Basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, sage and parsley should all be easy to source from the garden centre. I’ve noticed Tesco is now selling them fresh in pots, you could buy from there and split into smaller clumps and allow to multiply if you’ve no time for a trip to the garden centre. I would advise taking a little time and if you really can’t spare a morning, search online thoroughly. You’ll find all kinds of inspirations. The one below is on sale from eBay and it looks amazing.

Herb hanger urban

Image found here. Herb hanger for urban environments where space is a premium

Those with a little more gardening experience may want to start their herb plants from seed which is an even thriftier option and not too difficult in itself and even better if you’ve made your own composter from your waste food. One reason to give seeds a go is that all kinds of rare culinary and medicinal herbs are available from online seed purveyors. Herbs such as the beautiful blue flowered borage, dark leaved peppermint and sour sorrel can be purchased from specialist sellers such as Cornucopia Seeds, offering all sorts of possibilities to the home grower.

Creating an Urban Herb Garden

Before you purchase plants or seeds, decisions need to be made as to where and in what the herbs are to be grown. Most common herbs originate in the Mediterranean or tropics, so warmth is something to consider. 15-20C (60-70F) is ideal for most herbs which is why well lit indoor spaces are often so suitable and it’s a very quick way of making a nice, cheap decorative feature.

Small, soft leaved herbs such as dill and coriander (cilantro) can be grown in very small containers on a shelf and replenished at the end of their life-cycle. More vigorous herbs such as mint and rosemary require larger containers, and small ‘trees’ such as curry leaf and bay will need larger containers again.

Use a good quality potting mix for container growing (never garden soil) and select containers based of what you like and have available, but make sure there are holes in the bottom for proper drainage. Most herbs hate wet feet. Here’s a lovely decorative idea for a herb garden in your living room.

Creating your herb garden

Image by hative.com –
Creating your herb garden – this one’s very decorative.

Warmth-loving, hardy herbs such as oregano, basil and marjoram will do especially well indoors. Sunlight is important, so choose an area that gets plenty of window light, but not so close that delicate plants get burnt, there are many living room plants that won’t need direct sunlight

If growing indoors isn’t an option, a window-sill, verge or even back alley can be the source of a wonderful herb garden. Just make sure that there is sufficient protection from winds and expect some die back during cold winter times.

Some Recommended Herbs for Urban Gardens

Basil

Basil is a summer herb with attractive, soft green leaves and tall woody stems. Add it to tomato based sauces or raw to a ‘caprese salad’ with mozzarella and freshly sliced tomato. It can be grown in small to medium sized containers and likes plenty of sunlight. It’s a great one to keep by the kitchen sink window area. This skilled gardener (and DIYer) did an amazing job of making a herb garden over the kitchen sink.

Kitchen sink herb garden

Photo by Sam Henderson – Kitchen sink herb garden

Bay Trees

Bay trees can be pruned like bonsais and will supply fresh leaves year-round. Other ‘tree’ herbs to consider are the gorgeously scented kaffir lime tree and the flavoursome curry leaf.

Chives

Chives are handy to have growing whenever you require an onion flavour in a dish. They can be grown in small containers in or nearby the kitchen and conveniently snipped into soups and salads.

Mint

Mint is indispensable for soothing teas, cool cocktails and exotic meat and vegetable dishes. It has a vigorous root system and will do best went kept moist (but not wet) in a medium to large container. This great example of an indoor hanger is available from Ikea. If your trying to redecorate in a hurry, herb planters make a difference fast.

Herb hanger indoors

Herb hanger indoors on sale at Ikea.

Parsley

Parsley can be used in all kinds of dishes and makes a healthy snack all on its own. It will grow in small pots, but most cooks find they never have enough so plant as much as you can.

Thyme

Thyme is a classic herb for flavouring meat and vegetable dishes and can be grown in small containers given enough light, and not too much water. Lemon thyme is a lovely variety to grow.

Rosemary

Rosemary gives off a glorious scent and can be used in all kinds of dishes. It has a large root system and does best in medium to large pots in well-lit areas.

Sage

Sage is a beautiful herb that adds a wonderful note to savoury dishes. While it prefers the outdoors, it can be grown in a medium sized container given some occasional outdoor time. I’ll add one more example. This really is a decorative masterpiece, wonderful for neutral colours.

Indoor herb garden

Indoor herb garden by hom-e.tumblr.com

Of course these suggestions are only a drop in the ocean of the endless possibilities a herb garden presents. Speak to the staff at your local nursery and follow your nose. A world of sensory delights waits.

About the author

Michelle Tether

Michelle Tether

I love everything home. I write as a passion for non profit about the things I love.

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