Hackney Herbal specialises in creative workshops which teach people about the extensive uses of herbs. They are currently running online workshops and making special ‘staying home’ herbal tea blends designed to keep minds and bodies healthy during this time.

Hackney Herbal’s founder, Natalie, shares her expert tips and a comprehensive guide to starting your herb garden today.


•​​ Peat-free compost
•​​ Pots
•​​ Seed
•​​ Label
•​​ Tray

Fill your pots with compost. I use seed compost which is lightweight and aids germination. However you can also use a multipurpose compost and remove any large chunks. If you don’t have any plant pots at home you can make your own by re-use plastic packaging like yoghurt pots. Just make sure you put some drainage holes in the bottom.

Lightly push the soil down in the pots to remove big air gaps. This also helps the seed to make good contact with the compost.

Make 3 holes in the pot using your finger or a stick or a pencil. The seed only needs to be planted as deep as it is wide. So small seeds just need a very light covering of compost over the top.

Pop 1 seed into each hole. If you put more than 1, you will have some fiddly work separating them out later. It’s better to sow additional pots in the same way than to put more seeds into the same pot.

Label your seed pots with the name of the herb and the date.

Water your seeds. This is best done from below as watering from above can make a mess and disturb the position of your seeds. Pop your pots onto a tray and pour water into the tray. The pots can then absorb water through their holes. Paper pots can absorb water through the base without the need for holes.

Once the compost at the top of the pot has become hydrated, it will become darker and moist to touch. Pour out any excess water and then leave your seeds somewhere warm to germinate. A sunny windowsill works well. Keep them on the tray and remember to water them whenever the compost starts to dry out.

After your seeds have germinated wait until they are about 5 cm tall and then pot them on into bigger containers. I normally grow mine on until they are around 10cm tall before planting them into the ground.


Right plant, right place
As a general rule most herbs enjoy growing in full sun, in fertile soils with good drainage. If you’re planting herbs into heavy clay-based soils it’s good to add in some sandy topsoil, sharp sand or grit along with a garden-made or multipurpose compost. Otherwise simply adding in a few big handfuls of compost into the planting hole will help new plants get established.

Growing in pots
When growing herbs in pots and containers it’s good to combine topsoil and compost in equal parts to create the ideal conditions for you herbs to thrive. You can also add in some grit or stones for Mediterranean herbs that thrive in free draining soils. For perennial herbs - those that keep growing year after year - use a pot that is at least 20cm deep. Annual herbs that only grow for one season will be fine in slightly smaller pots. However, the larger the pot you use, the more abundant your herbs will be.

Keeping herbs happy
During dry spells and warm summer months make sure to water your herbs well once or twice a week. Smaller pots will need more frequent watering as they dry out quickly. It is better to water herbs in the morning than in the evening. If the soil looks dry and your herbs are wilting, give them a drink! Mature plants and those in smaller containers can benefit from being fed with a homemade nettle and comfrey liquid feed or a shop bought liquid seaweed.

Indoor growing
If you don’t have a balcony or garden you can still grow herbs indoors on a sunny windowsill. My top choices for window-sills are basil, coriander, parsley, calendula and mint. You can also grow perennial herbs like mint, chives and thyme indoors. For indoor growing, try and use pots that are 10-15cm deep.

Seed sowing
The warmth that June brings creates the ideal conditions for seed sowing. Herbs like coriander and basil enjoy a little heat to get them going so do better when sowed at this time. Annual herbs are a good choice for seed sowing because they grow quickly in one season, giving you a good harvest the same year that you plant them. The excitement of a seed sprouting is a feeling that never gets old so I’d encourage you all to have a go. Other easy herbs to grow from seed at this time include parsley, calendula, borage, basil and fennel.


White with Blue Rim Serving Tray

White with Blue Rim Tumbler

White with Blue Rim 1 Pint Jug


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