Fresh herbs are the flourish of flavor for any meal. Start with a few easier-to-grow herbs.
Indoor herb gardens aren’t just for the gardeners or foodies among us. Anyone can add a few pots of herbs to a lonely windowsill to instantly add form and function to the home. Some herbs are kinder to the newbie grower than others. Here’s are some ideas for you to increase your home’s herb appeal.
Clay pots with holes in the bottom are the best for herbs. Don’t fill the pots with pebbles or other broken-pot pieces before filling with soil as it can add to drainage problems rather than help them.
If you can, it’s best to buy seedlings, not seeds. Starting from seeds is an intermediate-level gardening skill. Check out the local nursery (avoid big box home and garden stores if possible) for already-started plants. They’ll have seasonal started seedlings, as opposed to shipped in seedlings that may be in another gardening zone.
Start modestly, with 1 to 3 herbs. With just a few herbs to start, you’ll have a better idea of how big they grow and how much space you’ll need once they mature. Basil, lemongrass, rosemary, sage or chives are good for beginners. The nursery experts may be able to guide you to their different varieties of these herbs.
Gardeners are a friendly bunch. If your seedlings don’t come with directions, search for terms like “growing basil for beginners” or “herb growing for kids.” The online gardening community will have plenty of blogs and websites for you to check out. You can also call your local United States Department of Agriculture Extension office. Find your USDA Extension here. The USDA has information and resources for the home gardener. The library has plenty of books on growing indoor plants and herbs, too. If you’re feeling in need of more help to get started, look into purchasing a pre-made indoor herb garden kit. All the directions will be included.
Herbs need food, too
If you are trimming the herbs often to use in cooking, you will definitely need to feed the plants some nutrients to keep them growing. Different herbs may need different nutrients. Indoor plant food from a major brand like Miracle-Gro should be sufficient, but you may want to look for a plant food specifically for vegetables. Always read and follow the directions, as it’s possible to do more harm than good.
Sun and drainage is important
6 hours of sun is required for most herbs. Find your sunniest spot in your home. If this means your little lush garden will be on plant stands in the bedroom, then that’s where it’ll be. You may find that you enjoy herb aromas in in other rooms besides the kitchen. Find some pretty pots or line some baskets to add a lovely, living tableau to the decor.
Watering and complete drainage is key to keeping (somewhat) delicate herbs healthy. Seasoned herb growers will douse the plants when the soil is dry and then leave them to drain in the sink. Make sure to protect the bottom of your sink from scratching by placing the pots on a rack or towel.
When you have the hang of it
Once you are past the beginning stage of your indoor herb adventures, you can move on to herbs that may take a bit more effort but offer a ton of rewards. Garlic can be sprouted from cloves you buy in the store. Bean sprouts are rich in amino acids, fiber and vitamins and are a great crunch to add to salads. Mint is a fast grower that spreads quickly, so it will need its own container. Mint is an especially fun herb to grow at home for its wonderfully fresh aroma and its potential in making cocktails like mojitos.
Start up your herb appeal!
Keep kitchen shears handy as you’ll be harvesting on the fly. This will take your kitchen from drab to delicious. Fresh, fragrant herbs make any meal better, and ones you grown yourself will be a personal flourish on your own five-star dinner.