You can save money and have fresh herbs all year if you create an indoor garden in your home. It doesn’t take a lot of work. Plus, you’ll have the reward of delicious seasonings for your home-cooked meals.
Before you head out to buy some seeds or seedlings, you have to start with a plan. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How green is my thumb? If you have difficulty keeping plants alive, you’ll want to pick herbs that are easy to care for and probably start with seedlings.
- Do I cook with herbs? If you don’t use herbs a lot when you cook, an herb garden is going to be a waste of time and space. If you only use certain herbs, stick with those.
- Do I have the space? Most herbs just need a spot in a sunny window. Do you have some room in an area of your home that gets a lot of natural light?
After you’ve answered those important questions, it’s time to get growing!
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There are really two main things you want to look at when it comes to choosing the rights herbs for your indoor garden: which herbs you’ll use, and which herbs will work well in your home.
Picking the herbs you’ll use is simply a matter of checking your recipes and looking at your spice rack. Fresh herbs add more flavor than dried, so consider investing in plants that you already have on the spice rack.
Look at your most-used recipes and consider growing the herbs you need for those. If you don’t ever use cilantro, it won’t make sense to have it in your garden. Which herbs will work in your home depends on the amount of sunlight you have available and how much talent you have with growing plants.
Below are some of the easier herbs to start and grow:
- Basil: It’s popular because it’s versatile in the kitchen and easy to grow. The seeds just need a sunny spot in a window and can be planted anytime after early March. Full sun is a must for basil, even if you’re starting with seedlings.
- Chives: The best way to start these is by replanting one from outdoors at the end of the growing season. You can also buy a started chive at the store. During that first winter, keep your dormant plant in a cool space for a couple of days before you put it in a big window that gets direct sunlight.
- Parsley: This herb thrives in partial shade but still needs some sunlight. If you’re starting from seeds, soak them overnight before planting to help speed up germination.
- Chervil: This is a perfect choice if you don’t have a super sunny spot. Similar to parsley, chervil likes low light. Keep it in an area that stays around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Oregano: It’s easiest to start growing oregano with a tip from an outdoor plant, rather than seeds. You can plant the tip directly in the soil, and it will sprout roots in time. Keep this herb in a window that faces south.
- Rosemary: Yet another herb that’s easiest to start with a piece cut off of another plant. For this one, keep the sprig in a cup of water until it sprouts roots, then transplant it into the soil. Rosemary is also happiest in a south-facing window.
- Thyme: You can start this one from a rooted soft tip, or just buy a plant that’s already started. Thyme requires full sun, so it will thrive in an east- or west-facing window.
Sunny windows aren’t the only must for your indoor herb garden. When you’re picking pots to plant your herbs in, make sure there’s good drainage. If water can’t drain from the soil, your plants are likely to get overwatered, which might kill them.
If your pots don’t have drainage holes, you can put stones in the bottom of the pot before you put in the soil. The stones leave pockets where water can drain and be absorbed back into the soil when needed.
Pick a soil meant for growing plants. Potting mix is perfect, and you can opt for organic, if you’d like. Be sure to pick a soil meant for indoor plants. (It does make a difference.)
One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting herbs indoors is planting too many seeds or seedlings in one pot. Give each plant its own pot, allowing it enough room to grow and thrive. One basil plant will give you plenty to use in your kitchen!
Whether you want to start herbs from seeds, or you purchase a full-grown plant, the continued care of your herbs is what’s most important.
If you buy something we didn’t cover above, be sure to do some research on each individual plant. You’ll need to know how much sun and water they need, and if you’ll need to prune them.
Below are some of the most common herb:
- Let the soil dry out between waterings: This will prevent you from overwatering your herbs.
- Watch for yellowing leaves: These are a sign that you’re overwatering.
- Mist them: Indoor air can be really dry and tough on plants. Spritzing them with a spray bottle sometimes will prevent them from drying out
- Use them: Don’t let your herbs go to waste! If you’re not cooking with your oregano right now, harvest those leaves before they wither and dry them out for future use.