Maybe you’ve got a green thumb and just can’t wait until spring to start planting. Perhaps you live in an apartment and don’t have a suitable space outside for gardening. Or it could be that you love the idea of having fresh, low-cost herbs at your disposal all the time. For all of these reasons and more, it’s worth it to grow your own indoor herb garden. And, yes, we’re talking about more than just a Chia Pet.
First and foremost, you have to pick the right spot in your home for the garden. The ideal location is near a window that has direct sunlight for five hours a day or more. A temperature that’s comfortable for you should work well for your plants too, as they typically thrive in the 65 to 70 degree range.
The next step requires some shopping. You’ll need to purchase planting pots that have holes at the bottom to ensure proper drainage and prevent rotting. Make sure to position a tray underneath to catch any runoff from the soil. You can use a long planter to house several herbs together, but you are probably better off with separate pots if you’re growing a variety of different herbs since their growing needs are not all exactly the same. Your best bet is using a few smaller, six-inch pots for individual growing. And it’s a good idea to label the pots so you can differentiate among the plants from the beginning.
You’ll have to get a sufficient amount of soil to fill several inches deep in each of the pots you’re creating. Select an organic potting soil rather than a garden soil because of the water restriction created by growth in containers. You can always ask for recommendations at the nursery or gardening center where you’re buying. At home, put two to three inches of soil in the pot before gently pressing seeds into the soil, then pack just a little more soil on top. Leave plenty of space at the top of the container.
Water your garden-to-be when the soil feels dry to the touch, but don’t overdo it. Check every day, even though you likely won’t need to water them daily. You shouldn’t be seeing an abundance of runoff under the pots; if you are, you’re overwatering. Once the plants have sprouted, another sign that you might be giving your herbs too much water is leaves that turn yellow.
Which herbs should you grow? While that’s partially a matter of personal preference, there are some common herbs that tend to thrive in indoor conditions more than others. Some of your best bets:
A great, easy herb to cultivate inside, chives can be cut for use when they are at least six inches long. Include them in soups, salads, and olive oils for flavorful dippings or dressings. A member of the allium family, chives are full of nutrients such as vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, niacin, and riboflavin.
Regular sunlight and watering are the only things this herb needs, and it will grow more evenly if you turn it occasionally. Oregano is great with simple chicken dishes, works well in pesto and tomato sauces, and complements beans and roasted vegetables nicely too. It is rich in antioxidants, potassium, zinc, iron, and protein.
Check the soil of your basil plant to make sure it doesn’t get too dry. If the soil remains moist and the plant receives direct sunlight, it should thrive. You can add basil to pasta salads, grilled shrimp, sautéed vegetable dishes, and summery soups. Basil is a good source of vitamin K, manganese, vitamins A and C, calcium, and folate.
Some daily sunlight is essential, but mint will grow well even in areas with less direct lighting. This herb is delicious in tea, smoothies, and tomato and cucumber salads. Mint is high in manganese, iron, vitamins A and C, and folate.
With a good deal of sunshine, your parsley will grow abundantly. Use this herb in eggs, hummus, a lentil and bean combination, or on sandwiches. Parsley offers lots of nutrients including vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin K, calcium, and vitamin E.
Another herb requiring a significant amount of sun, thyme is easy to grow indoors in the right spot. Add this herb to poultry, fish, and salads. It is a good source of vitamins A and C, copper, fiber, iron, and manganese.
This herb grows best in drier soil, so be sure not to overwater it. It can be somewhat difficult to germinate from seeds, so if you’re having trouble try growing plant cuttings instead.1 Jon VanZile. “How to Root Cuttings at Home.” about home. Oct 10, 2016. (Accessed 5 Feb 2017.) http://houseplants.about.com/od/propagatingyourplants/a/RootingCuttings.htm Rosemary is tasty in tomato or pea soup, on fish, and with vegetables, and it is rich in folate, vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, and calcium.
|↑1||Jon VanZile. “How to Root Cuttings at Home.” about home. Oct 10, 2016. (Accessed 5 Feb 2017.) http://houseplants.about.com/od/propagatingyourplants/a/RootingCuttings.htm|