Episode 91: growing herbs indoors

Herbs in pots: (from left) flat leaf parsley, pineapple mint and lavender mint. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

Herbs in pots: (from left) flat leaf parsley, pineapple mint and lavender mint. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

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Growing herbs indoors is fun and brings flavoursome leaves within easy reach. This week I chat to Huw Richards about how to grow mint, basil and more in pots on your windowsill: scroll down for a list of the stuff we talk about. Check out Huw Richards’ YouTube channel HuwsNursery for loads of advice on growing your own food. Huw’s new book Veg In One Bed is out now, published by DK. Here’s the Guardian piece I mention in my intro and you can find Huw on Twitter as @localfoodhuw.


If you missed my Facebook Live over Easter you can listen back to it here. And remember that question on an Apple Podcast review that mentioned a hardy Chlorophytum aka spider plant? Thanks to Anna Dickie for providing the answer - UK suppliers Van Meuwen are offering Chlorophytum saundersiae 'Starlight' which can be grown outside all year round.

Here are some key pieces of advice and links to follow as you listen:

Lavender mint. Strange, but true. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

Lavender mint. Strange, but true. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

  • The inspirational gardening book Huw mentions his parents being influenced by is John Seymour’s Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency which is a real classic! The 1970s TV show he mentions is The Good Life.

  • Leafy green annual herbs such as coriander and parsley are a great place to start when it comes to sowing herbs indoors. Starting out in February or March is ideal but there’s nothing to stop you sowing now!

  • Huw recommends  sowing seeds into the pots you want to harvest from - make them at least 4-5in (10cm) wide. - bigger is better 

  • Sow seed around 0.5cm or a quarter of an inch deep, and he recommends using potting compost from Dalefoot which is made from sheeps’ wool and bracken.

  • Place the pots somewhere warm such as an airing cupboard or above a radiator. Cut out a cardboard circle to fit over the top of the pot - as soon as you see seedlings emerge, move the pot to somewhere as light as possible to stop them getting leggy.

  • Ideally you need six hours of sunlight a day for growing herbs - if you don’t have that, invest in some LED growlights.

  • Huw isn’t a great advocate of thinning out seedlings - but don’t have more than 3-5 seedlings in a pot. Try experimenting with different numbers of seedlings in a pot so you can work out which grows best.

  • If you buy potted herbs from a supermarket, pot them up into fresh potting compost in a slightly bigger pot, and be cautious with the watering: don’t let it get waterlogged as the roots will rot. Using unglazed terracotta pots will help to keep the roots from getting too soggy: make sure they have drainage holes of course. Put a glazed saucer underneath to protect your furniture.

  • Ollas are terracotta pots that are an ancient way of keeping plants irrigated outside.

  • If you are in a lower light situation, try growing microgreens (we covered this back in episode four) or mint.

  • There are 600 plus varieties of mint so there’s plenty of choice! I like ‘Mojito’ mint, ‘Chocolate Mint’: Huw also mentions ‘Apple Mint’. The nursery I mention as selling lots of weird mints is Plants With Purpose.

  • Lemon balm and lemon verbena are also fantastic for herb teas.

Question of the week

Ashlie got in touch to ask about her bamboo plant (which actually turned out to be a Dracaena… easy mistake, they look similar!) which had been nibbled by her golden retriever and now the leaves are turning yellow. Dracaenas are tough plants but don’t like to be overwatered so I advise Ashlie to check the roots and repot if necessary. You may want to water your Dracaena with rainwater if your tapwater is fluoridated because these plants are very sensitive to fluoride.

Want to ask me a question about your plant? Either way, tweet @janeperrone, leave a message on my Facebook page or email ontheledgepodcast@gmail.com.

Introducing this week’s sponsor…

Use code ONTHELEDGE to get 10% off your purchase at trueleafmarket.com.

Use code ONTHELEDGE to get 10% off your purchase at trueleafmarket.com.

I’m really excited to announce that On The Ledge will be supported for the next three months by trueleafmarket.com, the indoor and outdoor growing experts. They sell everything you need to get started growing food indoors, including a microgreens starter kit for mess-free hydroponic growing (pictured below) and a great range of non-GMO seeds for microgreens or sprouting.

And if you have a pet who likes to munch on your houseplants, why not give them something more nutritious to munch on, with trueleafmarket.com’s Dog and cat pet grass kit?

Use coupon code ONTHELEDGE to get 10% off your purchase at trueleafmarket.com now.


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This week's show featured Roll Jordan Roll by the Joy Drops, An Instrument the Boy Called Happy Day Gorkana by Samuel Corwin and  Water in the Creek by Josh Woodward. Ad music is Dill Pickles by the Heftone Banjo Orchestra: All tracks licensed under Creative Commons.

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