It is not your imagination, more and more we all are hearing about herbs and herb gardening. Surveys conducted by The National Gardening Association show that the purchases of herbs have soared in recent years and that nearly 15% of all households are growing them. Did you know that you can have herbs all year round and not just during the growing season? Herbs are very versatile; they are well suited for growing in pots and containers and if given the right conditions they are easy to grow even indoors.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to determine which herbs you want to grow. Basil, Chives, Oregano, Parsley, and many other herbs are great candidates for an indoor herb garden. You don’t have to limit yourself to just herbs that are good for cooking. How about Pineapple Sage which can be used in teas and drinks or Lavender for a soothing bath. Once you decide which herbs you want to grow the next thing you need to do is figure out where you’ll get them from. There are several sources to choose from:
• You can take cuttings of your own herbs that are growing outside. You can do this by snipping off about a 4-inch section of the herb, stripping the bottom leaves from the stem, and then put them in a pot of moist potting soil and another soil medium such as vermiculite. You can cover the pot with clear plastic and in a few weeks the plants will root themselves and you can transplant them to a pot with well-draining potting soil.
• There are kits available that you can use which contain much, if not all of the things you’ll need to grow an indoor herb garden including containers and the seeds.
• You can buy new herb plants and plant them in containers yourself.
• It is also possible to try to transplant the herbs you are currently growing outdoors into a pot and bring them indoors when the weather is cooler. This can be challenging to do and you have to be careful that you don’t bring any unwanted insects indoors with the plant.
Once you have your plants you’ll need to recreate, as much as you can, the outdoor environment in which these herbs thrive. The first thing you need to do is to provide them with light. A southern window is best but an eastern or western window can work too. Be sure to turn the plants frequently to keep growth even on all sides of the plant. You also want to leave enough space for the plants to grow without crowding each other otherwise you can create conditions that can lead to diseases and encourage insects.
You want to keep them moist but not overwatered. If you feel the soil and the top layer feels dry then the plant probably needs some water. The soil needs to drain well as herbs don’t like wet feet! Finally, you need to provide temperatures between 50 and 75 degrees and you should wait until the herbs have matured a little before you start clipping them. They should be about 6 to 8 inches tall and you should never take more than a quarter to a third of plant at any one time.
If you’ve never grown herbs indoors before why not give it a try this year!