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Hands up the number of times have you bought fresh herbs for cooking or cocktail-making only to find them wilted and mouldy at the back of the fridge a few weeks later? 

Growing herbs on your kitchen windowsill is a lovely way to bring a taste of sunshine to your table all year round. Whether you’re growing herbs from seed or have store-bought potted herbs, the decorative herb pots from Burgon & Ball add a touch of class to your windowsill.  Here’s a guide to keeping those herbs alive.

Sage, basil, dill and coriander in bunches laid on a wooden chopping board

Keeping Supermarket Herbs Alive

1. Choosing your herbs

To get started, choose the herbs that you love to eat!  As a guideline, though, select herbs that stay fairly compact in shape. Some good choices are parsley, thyme, basil, oregano and Micro-greens.

Mint can also be grown on a windowsill, and is available with interesting shades of flavour such as pineapple, apple, and even chocolate! However, mint does like to  grow and spread its wings, so keeping it in a pot might become a bit of a challenge between you and the mint.

Choose the healthiest looking herb plants – this will require removing the plastic sleeve and check for

  • Discoloured or wilted leaves
  • Broken or damaged stems
  • Tangles stems (especially parsley, coriander, oregano and thyme)

2. Divide and Repot your Herbs

Not a lot of people know this about supermarket herbs is that they have many plants squashed up into that little pot, making root growth impossible.  Divide them up by first giving them a good water, give the pot a little squeeze to loosen the roots.  Remove the plant from the pot  and pull the roots apart. 

You can usually get 3-4 plants to repot with fresh potting mix.  Adding perlite to the potting mix will help the compost retain moisture and keep it light and free-draining without becoming saturated, which is what you want to keep your herbs alive and well.  

To re-pot your herbs, add a little compost mix at the bottom of the new pot, gently tease out the roots as you put the plants into the pots, and then add further compost mix and firm them down into their new home. 

Avoid using soil from the garden, as it may harbour organisms which could be harmful to your plants.  Place your newly-potted-up herbs into their container, give them a good drink of water, and add to your new window sill herb garden.

3. Who doesn’t love a bit of sun

A good place for your herbs is in the full sun.  Find a spot where they will receive at least half-a-day of direct sunlight.  If you have bought herbs that are already in pots, check the labels to see where they grow best.

4. Watering your Herbs Regularly

Your herbs shouldn’t need too much in the way of plant food.  You only need to feed weekly during summer and early autumn with Yates Thrive Vegie & Herb Liquid Plant Food,. Giving them too much fertiliser may cause them to produce a lot of wispy, fine growth.  If you see that happening, cut back on the plant food and give them a rest.

When watering, giving the herbs an occasional soaking is better than frequent, moderate watering. Check how wet the compost is by pushing in a finger into the pot an inch or two – if it still feels damp at that level, leave it be. Then give the herbs a really good soak when it does start to feel dry below the surface. Keeping herbs in pots inside a container (rather than planting directly into a non-draining container) will allow you to drain excess water if the plants do become waterlogged.

Remember that herbs generally don’t like to sit in wet soil. Think of Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, basil, oregano, and you can almost feel the heat and dryness of the regions where they grow best.

5. Maintain your Herbs

Harvesting

Harvest your herbs regularly, especially if you have not used them in a while.  Here is a few tips on how often to harvest herbs:

  • Basil: harvest the tips every two weeks by removing the tips from above the node and avoid damaging the small leaves on the node.
  • Mint: harvest the tips every two weeks by removing the tips from above the node.  More mature mint can be harvested more frequently
  • Coriander: remove one or two of the outermost stems from each plant weekly.  This allows the inner middle of the plant to grow.
  • Parsley & Dill: remove the outer stems on the plant allowing the small new leaves to grow

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Pest Control for Herbs

Aphids and white-fly do love making themselves at home on herbs.  Apply Yates Nature’s Way Vegie & Herb Spray as soon as you see them.  This is approves for use in organic gardens and is suitable for use on all herbs and vegies.

Ready to start growing? Check out our range of herbs for sale online today..