Sustainable living

How to grow herbs almost anywhere

Create, maintain and nurture a sustainable garden in your backyard, balcony or even benchtop.


Fresh herbs are increasingly seen as stock standard in modern day kitchens, with many a would-be Masterchef complaining the dried variety just doesn’t cut the mustard.

But how do you keep your herb garden growing, or even get started, if you live in a unit block or terrace with limited outdoor space?

Sydney City Farm can help to bring some spice to your life with these top tips for keeping your herbs healthy.

You don’t need a garden to grow herbs

There’s good news for city slickers, particularly those living in unit blocks – you don’t need an outdoor space to grow herbs! Even a brightly lit windowsill can provide enough sunlight to keep plants alive. To make it easier on you and them, it’s worth growing them in portable containers so you can experiment with finding an ideal location.

Start with something simple that you actually like

While many of us may dream of creating a complex degustation menu for 6, in reality have a think about the herbs you'll regularly use and enjoy eating, as it will keep you motivated when it comes to looking after your plants. Thyme, oregano and rosemary will all thrive in warm, sunny dry conditions if kept in a decent sized container with at least 2 litres of soil. For shadier areas you can try mint and chives. Basil and parsley are fairly easy to get going, but these herbs aren’t perennial, lasting only a season or so.

Sydney City Farm runs regular programs to help get your herb garden growing
Sydney City Farm runs regular programs to help get your herb garden growing

Keep unwanted guests from snacking on your produce

Anyone who’s grown herbs knows people aren’t the only fans of these delicious plants. You can keep unwanted snails, slugs and caterpillars off your garden by simply picking them off by hand. Growing flowers in your garden can confuse pests and keep them away from your produce, but don’t use chemicals or sprays on herbs you are going to eat. If you're growing herbs in a garden, it’s worth noting that possums have a particular penchant for parsley and may need a physical barrier, like an upturned wire basket, to keep them out.

The dark art of growing coriander

Fresh coriander is often a favourite, but it can be tricky to grow. Seedlings from the nursery are notorious for flowering and dying soon after you plant them at home. This plant is happiest when it’s grown straight from seed and will take a couple of months until it’s suitable for harvest. It grows best in the cooler months, from March to September, and likes the morning sun. Coriander won’t do well in dry soil so plant it somewhere you will remember to water it. If you want a continuous supply, you’ll need to plant new containers every couple of months.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to kick start your herb garden

There’s a few really easy things you can do to keep costs down. Converting containers from the recycling box into a pot for herbs can be as simple as adding a few drainage holes, and will avoid the need to purchase pricey pots. It’s also economical to grow herbs from seeds and cuttings.

At Sydney City Farm, we run regular workshops to help you grow your own. Book now.

Published 30 September 2022, updated 16 February 2023