What could taste better than tea made with fresh peppermint or sage? How about fragrant lavender sachets for your wardrobe or a relaxing bath with lemon mint blossom?
Herbs have fine aromatic qualities and many uses. You may say that not everyone has the space for a herb garden but all you need for your homegrown herbs to thrive are a windowsill with sufficient sunshine, a little care and some tips from Ricola herb expert, Thomas Aeschlimann.
March until April is an ideal time to sow the herb seeds. We recommend planting the seeds in trays covered with plastic or transparent foil to create mini-propagators in direct sunlight.
The seed trays should not be too shallow so roots can develop. It takes several weeks before the seeds germinate. Ensure that the base of the herb trays is kept damp throughout this period.
Pricking out the seedlings can begin as soon as they have produced a second pair of leaves. This means removing the germ bud of the seedlings and carefully separating the roots to create individual plants, so the seedlings are at least 15 centimeters apart. For garden herbs, we recommend using compostable pots that can be planted later in your herb bed.
Tip: If you need the plants quickly or have no time to cultivate the seedlings, you can of course purchase them in your local garden center. Certain herbs are very difficult to grow yourself. Some of these herbs are included in the Ricola blend of 10 herbs: peppermint, sage and thyme. But other herbs are also tricky to grow at home such as rosemary, tarragon, wormwood and lavender.
Each herb plant grows differently depending on the soil conditions. Thyme and sage, for instance, tend to prefer soils that are naturally low in nutrients. Herb expert, Thomas Aeschlimann, recommends planting these herbs in a mixture of three parts soil and one part sand.
Other herbs prefer soil richer in nutrients. Check on the seed packet or ask at the garden center what soil types are likely to produce specific varieties of thriving herb plants.
Our herb expert Thomas Aeschlimann explains that herbs are basically undemanding plants. But there are a few key points that you need to remember:
Herbs are sun-loving plants. Try to plant them in an unshaded spot that gets about five to six hours of direct sunlight every day.
Loose planting will ensure that the herbs have sufficient space.
Water regularly – ideally, every day. Avoid overwatering, as this damages the roots.
Feed your herbs from time to time by adding compost or powdered stone. Avoid using artificial fertilizers.
The larger the pot, the bigger your herb plants will grow!
It is best to grow two to three plants of each herb variety. The plants then have enough time to regenerate if you cut some of the stems off. You harvest most herbs before or during the flowering period, as some herbs lose their aromatic qualities after flowering or the stems become hard and inedible. In some cases where the blossoms are used, for example thyme, you should wait until the plants flower.
The best time to harvest herbs is before midday so the plants retain their essential oils.
Preserving your herbs
Sometimes you cannot immediately use your homegrown herbs to prepare food or drink. But there are various ways to keep your herbs. Read more in the article “Preserving herbs”