Herbs are low growing plants used to flavor foods, make medicines or provide fragrances to potpourri, cosmetics or household products. Most herbs are perennials, while some are annuals and only live for one year. Kitchen gardeners grow herbs in containers indoors, on the patio or in the garden soil. Even gardening novices can cultivate a small crop of herbs to use for seasoning dishes.
When using a garden hose to water herbs, first attach a hose nozzle, to soften the flow of the water onto the soil and use low water pressure. If watering herbs in a container, add water until it flows from the container's drain hole. Another way to irrigate container herbs is to fill a dish with water, and then set the container in the dish for about an hour, allowing the soil and roots to absorb the moisture from the dish. Remove the container from the dish of water when the soil is moist. Unless watering, never leave the container standing in a dish of water. If you've placed a dish below the container to catch water, make sure to empty it if there is any standing water, as that can damage the herb's roots. Herbs enjoy a slightly moist soil, and never allow soil to totally dry out.
Herbs need at least five hours of daily sunlight. Avoid exposing herbs to long periods of intense heat when placing container on a windowsill. Another concern is cold winter drafts coming from an open window and sudden drops in temperature next to the pane of glass, due to nightfall. While kitchen windows seem like the ideal location for a small culinary herb garden, the inconsistent temperatures in a kitchen can be stressful for plants. Florescent lighting can be a substitute for sunlight, yet the plants will need about three times more exposure to the light source. If using florescent lighting, the herbs should be about 1½ feet from the light source.
Proper harvesting of the herbs will help to stimulate the plant's growth. Pinch off growth from the ends of the stems, yet be careful not to overharvest a young plant. Remove and discard yellow or dried leaves, and pinch off green, healthy ends to use in the kitchen. Harvest herbs whenever they are green and have robust looking leaves. Avoid pulling off greenery from the bottom of the plant or over pinching a single stem.