4 Steps to Home-Grown Herbs

When it comes to seasoning foods, nothing beats fresh herbs. They are aromatic, full of flavor, and pair beautifully with so many foods. (Don’t believe me? Check out this herb/food pairing guide from personalcreations.com). Not only do they taste wonderful, but there are many health benefits of cooking with fresh herbs. Nutrition research also supports the reduction of sodium laden processed foods. Using these ingredients helps intensify flavor without all the added sodium and fat.

However, buying and using herbs can be tricky. You might need to use an herb for just one dish, and unfortunately the grocery stores often package more than is required. In addition, some fresh herbs can be expensive. In order to alleviate this problem, this year I have decided to grow some of my favorite herbs at home. You can follow me on this journey while I experiment!  Today I’ll let you in on how I started my “Basil Babies” inside at home – I plan on moving them outside when the risk of frost is over and they can soak up plenty of sun. 

Step 1: Save your single serve yogurt cups - they make great starter pots! Always make sure you create some holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill your starter pots with some seed starter mix and you should be ready to plant. These yogurt cups are fantastic because they can be re-used year to year.

Step 2: Find seeds for the herbs you want to grow. Often, you can find seeds at your local grocery store or nursery. Online stores also offer large varieties of seeds. You can peruse the sites for the type that sounds best to you. This year I’m starting with Basil (I chose a pack that had 6 different varieties so I’d get an awesome surprise assortment!)

Step 3: Plant your seeds. You should plant your basil seeds about ¼ inch deep, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Using a seed-starting mix will provide needed nutrients at first. You should start to see seedlings within 1-2 weeks. When the seedlings start to show two sets of leaves, move them into a larger pot with a potting mix. 

Step 4:  If starting your seeds inside, ensure they get plenty of sunlight. Basil plants love sunlight and need about 6 hours of rays per day, so place them next to a sunny window. If you have access to set up a grow light, that can certainly help them flourish. Water the plants as needed to keep the soil moist, but not overly soggy.

Following these four steps can get you on the path to starting your very own herb garden. Remember your “garden” can be a backyard oasis or just a few planters on a deck or balcony. One of the biggest benefits to growing herbs at home is that you can use just what you need all year, and of course, sharing with friends!

 Stay tuned for the Basil Babies’ transition from inside to my Lakeview deck! Questions? Contact Christine@womenssportschicago.com.

Christine Steinmetz