If you’re trying to get your little ones more excited about food and gardening, growing their own herbs is the perfect activity for both! Herbs are extremely easy to grow indoors, without worrying about too much (or not enough) rain, or damage from frost. The versatility of herbs also means you can use them while cooking, so little ones can help out in the kitchen without risking burnt fingers.
A common problem with herbs like basil is that they are prone to being over watered by excited young green thumbs. To avoid this problem, make a schedule with how often you should water them – every day will be far too much, every week too little. The soil should be allowed to dry between being watered. Twice a week is ideal for most herbs including basil, parsley, oregano, and mint – so make a calendar of ‘watering days’. Kept within reach on a whiteboard or monthly sticker chart, your child can tick off when they’ve watered the plants on schedule, so they can feel proud and enjoy the fruits of their labours.
Windowsills are ideal for keeping potted herbs, but they’ll need a good 4-5 hours of light every day. Try to keep them on a south, west, or east facing windowsill so they can get as much sunlight as possible. If this isn’t an option in your home, place them on a north facing windowsill and invest in some LED grow lights. These come on a strip so you can fix some to the side of the window pane and guarantee some light for your plants – remember to rotate them so they grow evenly. If you’re worried about leaving it on all day, connect it to a timer plug so they automatically switch off.
Most supermarket potted herbs are kept in tiny pots which restrict growth, so the plant will die sooner no matter how well you water and light it. If you do use these as starters, replant them with some fresh soil once they’re home, using bigger pots. Be sure to allow adequate drainage to prevent them drowning, so line the bottom of the pot with gravel or broken crockery before filling with soil. If you harvest regularly, taking no more than one third of the leaves at any time, you should be able to avoid repotting your herbs for a long time, so keep any overexcited harvesters in check.