Yes, Casa Flora is a flower shop, so why are we giving you advice on herbs? Ideally, this blog space is to share tips and tricks for all things that grow from the soil. I thought herbs should be first because a lot of Kenyans shy away from using these ingredients and the dried options sold in supermarkets don’t really do them justice.
Growing your own herbs should be fairly straightforward regardless of your gardening experience. You can plant them in pots or in your backyard depending on the space that you have. As they tend to spread out fast, planting them on the ground would be the better option. To get quality seeds in Kenya, you will be surprised to know that your local supermarket sells a variety of them. You also have the option of buying seedlings from farmers’ markets. They should cost not more than KES200 for each variety.
First you need to choose what herbs you are going to grow. Your options are basil, sage, cilantro (dhania), mint, chives, thyme, rosemary, oregano, tarragon, marjoram, dill and parsley. You can do your own research, or visit this link to get a better grip of how to use these herbs in your recipes.
Once you have decided what to plant, decide the location where you are going to plant them. Most herbs flourish in full sun so allocate a sunny spot in your garden, kitchen or veranda to grow or place your herbs. Ensure that these areas receive at least 4 hours of sunshine each day.
If you are planting your herbs in the ground, allow for at least 30 cm to 120 cm in diameter for each plant. Here is a small breakdown on how to space your plants;
- 90 -120 cm – Rosemary, Sage, Mints, Oregano, Marjoram
- 60 cm- Basil, Thyme, Tarragon
- 30 cm – Cilantro, Chives, Dill, Parsley
Next, you need to prepare the soil. Digging with a large garden fork loosens soil that has become compacted over the years. This allows water to drain and creates space for plant roots to reach down into the soil. This is the most important step–shortcuts here are disastrous for your plants. Adding manure to your soil, about 2 cm or so on top and then mixing it into the soil, helps prevent drainage problems and adds fertilizer to the garden.
Now you can plant your herbs about half a centimetre into the soil. Water them after and remember to do so every day or when the soil a few centimetres deep is dry to the touch.
If you are planting in pots, prep your pots by filling them with soil and just like the other, add manure at the top. Plant your seeds in the individual pots but if you are using one big pot, try to keep a diameter of at least 20 cm between each plant.
For harvesting, simply cut off about 1/3 of the branches when the plant reaches at least 12 cm tall. By cutting close to a leaf intersection, your plants will regrow very quickly.
There are some brands that clearly give instructions on how to grow and when to harvest, so next time you buy a pack of seeds, take advantage of the information given.