Spending a little time gardening is a great way to balance out a busy working week. Watching something grow that you have nurtured is a great joy and if you can harvest the produce so much the better. But not all of us have out-door space and some really do have very little time. So how can you enjoy the pleasure of growing something green?
Well, many herbs grow quite happily indoors with the right conditions. They don't take much looking after, most look good and, yes, you do get to harvest them for cooking.
You will find all kinds of herbs in your local garden centres and you can find them on-line. I would recommend buying plant pugs (young plants) rather than growing from seed. Growing herbs from seed can be frustrating.
The biggest challenge when growing indoors is providing the right light. Many herbs will live very happily on a sunny windowsill but you do need to check the label or on-line to make sure that they like to be in full sunlight. The warmest light comes from a western or southern facing window but they can get very warm in the summer.
For most of the year the plants need to be close to the source of light otherwise they will weaken. For southern or western facing windows, it is usually best to move them back a little from the window when the sun is very hot in the summer.
Herbs don't usually need frequent feeding but most need a good quality compost and you can add a little liquid fertilizer occasionally. Buy the feed from or garden centre or on-line and read the instructions very carefully.
Most plant grow quite happily in plastic plant pots but make sure there are good drainage holes – most plants hate to live with sodden roots. Select pots only a little larger than the root-ball, plants seem to be more comfortable if their roots can tell where the sides are.
Plants grouped together enjoy the humidity from each other or you can stand them on dishes filled with stones and water. But make sure the bottom of the pot is above the water – see my comment below on wet feet.
As for watering – follow any instructions that come with your plant but generally keep the compost damp but not swamped. And do not leave the pot standing for any great length of time in water. Most plants hate wet feet and many will rot and die quite quickly. Mediterranean plants with silver grey leaves, for example, lavender, like to be watered sparingly but don't let them dry out completely.
Harvest your herbs gently. Try to leave new shoots and never take more than half – if you need more, get more plants.
Enjoy caring for your new friends. They are incredibly undemanding and I find they are great for muttering to about difficult customers or trying bosses. Enjoy, as well, finding out more about the herbs you grow – you will be surprised in how many ways they can reward your interest.
Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach. She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason @wisewolfcoaching.com