Growing herbs indoors is a fun past time, and most people have at least one sunny windowsill in their home suitable for an indoor herb garden. Whether growing herbs indoors is for culinary or medicinal pleasure, these tips will help the average gardener be successful in creating an indoor herb garden.
Location for an Indoor Herb Garden
The first consideration for growing herbs indoors is light. Herbs need plenty of bright light. A south facing window is ideal, but a bright eastern facing window is also fine. Supplemental light such as grow lights purchased at a home and garden store can also facilitate indoor herb gardens. Be sure to place the indoor herb garden in a spot the entire family can enjoy. The bright greenery enlivens drab, wintry days, and the closer cooking herbs are to the kitchen, the more likely they are to be used.
Choosing Containers and Pots for Growing Herbs
During the fall and winter, most home and garden centers offer many herb garden kits. These often include a small tray with six tiny pots and a clear plastic cover to create a miniature greenhouse, or a similar setup of pots, seeds, soil and cover. Almost any pot can suffice for an indoor herb garden. It must have drainage holes to allow excess water to drain out, and a tray to catch the water will keep it from staining windowsills.
Recycled containers can also be used for indoor herb gardens. Wash with warm, soapy water, and rinse well any containers to recycle and use as herb gardens. Plastic whipped topping containers, margarine tubs and take out containers make good herb garden containers. Be sure to poke or punch holes in the bottom for drainage and rinse them thoroughly to remove all traces of food and soap.
Good Soil Is Critical for Growing Herbs
To grow great herbs, a rich soil is crucial for success. Do not use garden soil. It may contain microbes or insect larvae that will hatch once it warms up inside of a cozy home. Instead, opt for bags of potting soil purchased at the garden center. This soil is sterilized so that it contains pure soil and other ingredients, but no harmful insects or microbes. Most commercial potting mixes include a porous material such as vermiculite, the tiny white pebble-looking things in the mix. These allow water to drain freely. Many also contain fertilizers to boost plant health.
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Cooking Herbs for Indoor Herb Gardens
Many herbs take well to indoor conditions, but a few provide cooking herbs, great color, and are particularly forgiving of indoor conditions. Choosing herbs is a matter of personal preference, too. Try any of the following cooking herbs:
- Parsley: Parsley isn’t just a garnish! It adds a bright, zesty flavor to many dishes and pairs great with creamy dishes such as homemade au gratin potatoes. It can also flavor meatloaf, mashed potatoes and more.
- Basil: Adding fresh basil to pizza, spaghetti sauce and Italian dishes makes them sparkle. With so many varieties of basil, choose Genovese or sweet basil for Italian fare and Thai basil for Asian cuisine.
- Rosemary: Rosemary pairs well with lamb and meat dishes. It needs dry conditions. Some gardeners dig up outdoor rosemary and take it inside to winter over since this tender herb cannot take the winter chill.
- Chives: Chives taste a bit like onions, but some varieties add hints of garlic flavor. Fresh chives can be used whenever a slight onion flavor is desired in a recipe.
Whether an indoor herb garden brightens the kitchen with cooking herbs or enlivens another room with the fragrance of a rosemary topiary, adding herbs inside the home chases away the winter blues and help gardeners dream of summers to come.