Most of us love the idea of growing herbs for cooking but hate the idea of getting messy in the garden. Not only do you have critters to deal with, but also weeds and other pests. That is where creating a small indoor herb garden comes in. It’s a project for the enthusiastic home chef that wants to include more fresh herbs in his cooking. With the right tools and effort, it can be done.
Choose the right herbs
We all have our favourites when it comes to herbs, whether it is basil, thyme or rosemary. So, if you don’t like cilantro, don’t plant cilantro. That’s a given when it comes to choosing your herbs. However, there are certain herbs that will survive indoors, even in the winter. During the rest of the year, herbs like the temperature to be around 18 to 21 degrees Celsius. Most can tolerate the temperature dipping to around four or 10 degrees Celsius, with some exceptions, such as basil. So you may want to consider covering your herbs with glass or clear plastic to maintain the right temperature. Some of the best herbs for growing indoors include bay, chives, oregano, parsley, sage and tarragon.
Choose the right light
Just as the temperature is important, so is light. You will want to choose a window that gets around six to eight hours of light a day. Remember the basil? It needs more light than the rest of them do. South-facing windows will provide the best light, but if you don’t have one, east or west will work just as well. If the light is low, you can always provide artificial light in the form of a few fluorescent lights. It’s also a good idea to rotate your herbs every now and then so that they aren’t all leaning to one side as they grow.
Choose the right container
A small bed is no good for anyone, human or plant. That is why you will need to choose a pot that is big enough to let everything grow. The pot will also need ample drainage for when you water your herbs. Keep a tray underneath to catch the water that drains out. The bargain option for growing your own herbs is to reuse plastic containers. You will need to poke a few holes in the bottom with an awl. If you choose one large pot for everything, make sure you space out your herbs when you plant them. Some herbs can take over a pot, such as mint, and will need a pot of its own.
Choose the right soil
Believe it or not, but a lot of herbs grow well in poor soil. The reason is because your herbs will develop a stronger flavour that way. By giving your herbs ample time to grow, you will have more flavourful dishes when you cook with them. Take it easy on the fertilizer as well because too much will result in less tasty herbs. Do mix in some nutrients with the soil, such as liquid seaweed or compost. Keep the soil loose at the top of the pot to let some air in.
Maintenance and other tips
It can’t be said enough, but water your herbs on a regular basis. That will mean touching the soil to see if it’s dry and picking up the container to see how heavy it is. If it’s light and dry, give it some water and just enough to see some seep out the bottom. Water is important, but you don’t want to overdo it. Start feeding it after about 10 days and you can incorporate a mixture of B1 plant mix and liquid seaweed to add to the health of your plants. The vitamins in the mix will help produce a more flavourful herb.
After about four to six weeks, you can harvest your herbs. Not only will an indoor herb garden add to the quality of your food, but to the aroma and feel of your home.
By Meagan Dieroff