Fresh herbs are one of the easiest things you can grow at home. Herbs add another dimension to your cooking, and give flavour to even the plainest of foods. By growing your own herbs, you’ll save lots of money. You’ll also have less wastage, because many herbs are ‘cut and come again’. Cut some off, and more will grow.
You don’t need a lot of space to grow herbs – a sunny windowsill, step or a small courtyard is ideal. Of course, if you have a large garden, the possibilities are endless.
By growing herbs with your kids, you’ll help them develop a connection to nature. It’s exciting for kids to plant seeds, give them enough water, and get some sunshine. Kids get excited when they see the seeds germinating. They get even more excited when it’s time to pick and eat stuff they’ve grown.
Growing things is a great way to teach kids about delayed gratification. Give your children the task of watering the herbs, and you’re teaching them about responsibility, too. And the bonus is that if they’ve grown it, they’re much more likely to at least taste it.
Another great thing about growing your own herbs is that it needn’t be expensive. Think Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. You’ll find plenty of stuff lying around your home ready for upcycling and repurposing. Here are some of our favourite ideas:
Use old egg cartons and egg shells as planters. This would be a great school activity, and it’s perfect for a house with a small garden. Place the eggshell planters on a sunny windowsill in the kitchen where the kids can see them everyday. When the seedlings are large enough, plant them out into pots in a sunny courtyard. You could even plant them straight out into the garden or into rockery.
You can use water bottles and old soft drink bottles. You can chop them in half, turn them upside down and leave the lid off for drainage. Sit the top half of the bottle into the bottom half. It will hold moisture so you don’t have to remember to water the herbs every day.
- Old boots and shoes are great for growing herbs. Crocs are especially good. They have holes for drainage, and you can even hang them from the strap.
- Old pet food and water bowls are a great size for herbs.
- Repurpose those canvas or plastic hanging shoe organisers, and you can grow a different herb in each pocket.
- Grow herbs or a whole garden in old tyres. It’s a great way to recycle, too.
- Grow herbs in pallets. Lean a pallet against a sunny wall and you’ll have all herbs you want. You could even add some salad leaves.
- There are some great ideas on Pinterest for growing herbs in cinderblocks.
- If you’ve got any cut offs from gutters or downpipes, you can grow a whole heap of herbs.
The list of materials is endless. You just need to add a little drainage if there aren’t any holes and you’re ready to plant. Crafty kids can get the paints out and decorate your herb garden planters for an additionally creative project.
How do you keep kids interested in growing herbs?
One great way to keep kids interested is to plan a herb garden with a purpose.
How about trying some of these ideas?
Grow a pizza garden
Most kids love pizza, so why not grow your own pizza garden? Kids can water, watch and grow their own herbs, and then pick them and sprinkle them on pizzas. Home made pizza is so much healthier than takeaway pizza, too. When you’re choosing herbs, think oregano, basil and parsley. If you’ve got a sunny spot, you could think about growing some cherry tomatoes and baby spinach leaves. These are easy to grow in pots, and are great additions to pizza.
Grow a medicinal garden
- Lemon balm is great for soothing cuts and insect bites, as is comfrey.
- Sage is useful for high fevers and diarrhoea.
- Peppermint is useful for gastrointestinal problems and makes great tea.
- Catnip can act as a mild sedative, soothing anxiety and has also been used as an insect repellent.
- Pennyroyal helps repel fleas, which is great if you have pets.
Grow a summer drinks garden
Tropical, summery herbs like mint and pineapple sage are great for infusing water or mineral water to cool down after running around in the hot sun. Take your children to the nursery to smell the herbs themselves and help you pick them out. You could try chocolate mint, basil, or even scented geraniums that smell like Turkish Delight. You can create endless combinations of delicious drinks using herbs, and if you’re grown up, you might even like to check out these yummy alcoholic herbal cocktails (basil in gin happens to be one of my favourites!).
Grow a tea garden
What are your favourites? Chamomile, peppermint? Mild teas that your child can make and share with you are good places to start. Your child will feel such a sense of accomplishment to bring mum a cup of tea brewed with leaves that they grew themselves. There are some great ideas for herbal teas here.
Once you get your children interested in herb gardening, you might like to expand into some easy to grow vegetables.
Image credit: Kate Monkey on Flickr.
Have you grown herbs with your kids? Which herbs would you recommend?