Monday, 11 May 2009

No Balcony? Herbs are for ANYONE...

Justify FullA balcony, despite its confined space, is a luxury that many green-fingered Londoners simply don’t have. Whilst this blog aims to record my progress as I attempt to grow vegetables on my balcony, I’m also trying to promote awareness around green issues and the fact that ANYONE can grow a few things, even if it’s on a windowsill!

Whilst I’ve focused my agricultural attentions on producing a variety of vegetables right here on my London balcony garden, I’ve overlooked one of the simplest and easiest ways to start enjoying growing your own within a small London home – the humble herb garden.

Regular readers will be aware that I’m growing coriander plants from seed (a wonderful addition to any salad), however on the Bank Holiday weekend, I purchased some herb plants to put on the kitchen windowsill.

One of the real attractions to growing herbs (apart from their ability to freshen up any salad or evening meal, straight from pot to plate) is the fact that they are easy to maintain and even a complete beginner can manage them. Simply a sunny ledge and regular watering will ensure that you have a constant crop of fresh seasoning that tastes infinitesimally better than expensive supermarket offerings that wilt before you’ve got them home.

On our kitchen windowsill, we have four pots of herbs growing; curled parsley (Petroselinum crispum), basil (Ocimum basilcum), oregano (Origanum vulgare) and sage (Salvia). I’ve looked on a leading supermarket’s website (one that will remain anonymous, since the London Vegetable Garden is too poor to incur libel costs) and fresh packets of herbs all retail at around 79p, with a ‘short product life’ warning emblazoned next to them.

Let’s say you needed some fresh basil for a mozzarella and tomato pasta salad – why waste 79p when you can have a pot that is as fresh as you can get and will last you months? These particular pots were part of a 4 for £5 offer, meaning that financially, growing your herbs is an extremely viable way to save money whilst enjoying better, fresher organic produce – why would anyone choose not to?!

So if you’re thinking that you’d like to start growing your own, but have no idea where to possibly start, herbs are an ideal, easy and satisfying way to start your foray into growing your own vegetables in little or no space. These pots are available in supermarkets and garden centres, but if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not try growing a few from seed – my coriander is showing recognisable leaves after only a few weeks!.

For tips on growing your own herbs, visit the BBC Gardening website by clicking here!


  1. Great advice - I love to grow herbs and like you it's straight from pot to plate. I have herbs growing both at home and at my allotment. currently growing Coriander, Basil, Italian Parsley, Chives, Dill, Sage, Thyme & Majoram (i think that's the lot)

  2. Wow ! i am full of admiration. Anyone who has the veg and herb growing bug, and doesn't let a lack of gardening space stop them "growing their own" deserves a big cheer HURRAH ! Have you tried Lemon Coriander ? and Red Basil ? if not I can recommend them, easy to grow from seeds and delicious.
    Good luck with it all

  3. There's certainly a lot of herb fans amongst you out there! There's simply no excuses when it comes to herb gardening - no space is required, it's cheaper than buying 'fresh' (ironically labelled) packs in the supermarket and tastes so much better!

    Thanks for your comments Maureen - lemen coriander sounds delicious and is certainly a variety I'll look out for next time I'm in the garden centre.

  4. I would only add a reccomendation to grow herbs from seed or buy small plants in garden centres. Supermarket ones are almost 'designed' to die after a couple of days from purchase, I find. Another tip - plant mint in a big pot, it spreads quickly and if allowed will cover up all the surface available.

  5. Hi Spanners,

    Thanks for the mint tip - will be sure to check it out, although the London Vegetable Garden is fast running out of space already!

    I must admit though, that fresh mint evokes childhood memories of roast dinners and mint being placed in a warm bowl of peeled boiled potatoes - divine!

  6. Thanks for your recent comments. For reasons unknown it found it's way into my spam file hence this delayed response. Reading your post about growing herbs has increased my motivation to grow more of them next spring. I have neglected them in the past but that's about to change.

  7. Hi Rodney,

    Glad that my small herb garden has invigorated you! I was initially worried about these shop-bought plants, as many leaves died after I re-planted them, however plenty of new leaves are growing now and looking even better than before.

    What a joy to cook an evening meal and have fresh herbs literally to hand. Wonderful stuff!

  8. Hello! I just discovered your blog while googling for ideas on what other herbs to grow. I've started a wee balcony garden too with mixed lettuces, rocket etc, some parsley, and some mangetout growing up the netting that was (handily) stretched across the balcony. I've just bought some brackets so I can hang another row of window boxes from the balcony rail, so now I'll have a lot more room to grow things. I have some basil, coriander and mint inside, everything's grown from seed except the mint but I think this time I want a quick start so I might buy seedlings. Haven't had much luck with the coriander - I don't get much in the way of leaves from them before they go to seed, any ideas?

    Anyway thanks for the inspiration!

    ps where do you buy your herb plants from? I bought my mint from the Marylebone Farmers Market so may go back there, my local garden centre (Camden) doesn't seem to have much in the way of herbs.

  9. I am more than excited to start my balcony project this coming weekend, but Im having a hard time figuring out where to go for inexpensive containers or pots, hooks for railing planters, etc. I am also curious to know if tomatoes will ripen here, if I start them this weekend. I'm from Chicago, and am just begining to find my way with it all.
    HELP ;)

  10. I currently have a couple of pots with chillis growing so I have fresh chillis whenever I make a nice spicy curry

  11. Informative Blogs!!

    Thanks for Sharing.....



Related Posts with Thumbnails