As winter is silently creeping in, passionate gardeners set aside their gardening tools, hide wind spinners from stormy winds, winterize the irrigation system, and leave solar garden lights to scrape desperately for some daylight.
While your garden might look still and deserted, it is not necessary to desert your passion for gardening and luscious greenery!
Here is a full beginner’s guide on how to start an indoor garden that will help you enjoy growing herbs year-round.
Why Start an Indoor Herb Garden
Having instant access to fresh herbs throughout the year greatly favors your cooking routine and your health. Not only herbs add flavor to meals, but they also help to prevent heart disease, inflammation, and tumors.
While an ample supply of nutrients is an obvious benefit, it is definitely not the only reason to grow herbs at home.
More than that, bringing nature inside (also known as biophilic design) impacts physical and mental well-being: it reduces the number of airborne pollutants, lowers anxiety, and increases attention. No wonder it’s the top one recommendation for surviving the lockdown and working from home experience.
Another good reason is to start a whole family activity and teach children sustainability. Observing what it takes to grow food, we become more mindful and eager not to turn precious resources to waste.
Inspired to get started?
Then, let’s see what herbs you should better grow and how to keep a herb garden alive.
How do I Start a Herb Garden?
The first step is to choose what herbs you would like to grow.Of course, your choice will depend on your tastes and indoor gardening ambitions.
After all, why choose if you can grow them all?
Rosemary is another good option, but be ready that it grows slowly and is more challenging to maintain.
All that you need to start growing basil at home is a sunny spot and a large pot. Basil loves moist, well-drained, loamy soil. However, if you can’t provide these conditions, don’t worry: a full sun, regular watering, and monthly fertilization with compost might be enough for growing basil indoors. The ideal herb growing temperature for this and other herbs is between 60 to 70 Degrees.
Now when you know how to grow basil in a pot, make sure you harvest it right. When the plant reaches 18-24 inches, start cutting the tops off and add fragrant leaves to your pesto, pizzas, and pasta sauces. Frequent clipping will make the plant bushy and slow down flower production.
Parsley is a natural freshener of breath and a great source of vitamin C, calcium, and iron. And it does very well as a houseplant! Grow parsley from seeds soaked in warm water for the night before planting – this will speed up the otherwise long time of germination.
Sage, like rosemary, grows slowly, which might discourage beginners eager to see and taste their herb hardens as soon as possible. Thus, it is better to start growing sage by clipping it from the established plant and placing it in water to root.
After the root develops, plant the herb into well-drained soil and place the pot in full sun. Partial shade will not kill the plant but will decrease its favor, which is an excellent addition to soups, stews, meats, vegetables, and even tea.
Your guests will probably take a chives plant with its unique purple flowers for a decorative houseplant. Nonetheless, it is one of the best culinary herbs to grow, which is used as a mild alternative to onions.
Chives are hardy and often thrive on a regular kitchen windowsill. Still, they prefer sandy soil with drainage. Another secret that will help you grow healthy appetizing clumps at home is to mix the soil for chives with low nitrogen (5-10-10) fertilizer.
Cilantro or Coriander is one of the oldest grown herbs, so you may proudly take your indoor herb garden for an offspring of ancient Egyptian gardens, where cilantro once grew.
The herb is planted into a sandy soil with ample organic matter, prefers full sun to partial shade, and can survive even hard frost.
Full-grown dill is mostly associated with pickling, but the herb has also got the fresh leaves (a good alternative to parsley) and the seeds that can be used to flavor meats, eggs, fish, and vegetable dishes.
The herb needs direct sunlight and well-drained soil. There is no need for fertilizing, and the only gardeners’ concern might be providing the support for the tall fine stems.
Marjoram is easy to grow, tolerant of forgetful watering habits plant with a wealth of health benefits, which makes it one of the essential herbs to grow at home.
If you, like me, are addicted to the mint scent, you will not resist adding this plant to your herb garden. At the same time, this quick-growing and non-demanding herb might be the best choice for beginners who are often worried about how to keep herbs growing.
Mint grows in any soil and doesn’t need fertilizers. The plant should be placed in full sun or partial shade. If you used a larger pot to plant several types of herbs, consider giving mint a pot of its own: mint grows so vigorously that it can choke out other plants.
Oregano likes full sun and well-drained soil, and we like oregano for how well it complements Italian dishes and how easy it is to care for.
Like most herbs, it doesn’t need frequent fertilizing; it is also better to keep the plant on the dry side.
Flowering reduces the production of essential oil, so harvest oregano leaves before the flowers appear. You may also cut off the flowers to make the growth period longer.
When it comes to health benefits, it is easier to tell what thyme doesn’t do, so many vitamins and minerals it has.
Do you think it is a challenge to grow such a treasure at home?
Not at all!
Pick fresh thyme as needed or cut off five inches of flowering stems for drying the plant. Thus, use it as a garnish or as a flavoring; on its own or blended with other herbs.
Growing Herbs Indoors Without Sunlight
I bet you can already imagine passing these bright, fragrant herbs transformative to your home design and reaching out for a fresh leaf while cooking. Before you go too far in your reveries, take a critical look at the spots where you would like to locate your herb garden.
Do they really have the full sun that most of the herbs need?
Unfortunately, the ever-growing cities make sun-lit dwellings a privilege.
Do not get discouraged at this point, though – growing herbs indoors without much sunlight is perfectly possible. First, you can maximize the sunshine by placing pots on reflective or white surfaces. Secondly, herbs that grow without sunlight can get what they need from the grow lights that become more and more common on the market.
How to grow herbs indoors under lights
Obviously, the artificial lights we have in our homes cannot substitute for sunlight. Even the dedicated incandescent and fluorescent grow bulbs are not the best options for growing herbs with grow lights.
This is because they do not have essential components of the daylight spectrum, such as:
- infrared light: the infrared radiation provides the heat necessary for optimal plants’ growth;
- ultraviolet light: stimulates defense mechanisms in herbs that make herbs develop properties we find beneficial (for example, flavor and antioxidants). This way, the best grow lights for indoor herb gardens are those that provide a full light spectrum for plants.
A quick and easy option may be using all-in-one indoor herb garden sets like Click and Grow. These combine the grow lights, the planter, and the pre-seeded plant pods.
How often to Water Plants Indoors
How often and how much watering a herb needs depends on the plant’s type and the growing conditions, the temperature in your dwelling, humidity and exposure to sun in particular.
The best time to water your herb garden is in the mornings and evenings; this doesn’t let the plant lose water by evaporation. An automatic watering system for potted plants can ease this chore and make the maintenance more consistent.Browse indoor pot growing tips for signs that your herb can use to tell you about insufficient or excessive watering.
This may include:
- Leaves turning brows;
- Yellowing and decay of leaves.
How to Create Drainage in a Pot
The success of watering will also depend on the drainage that is designed not to let water sit in pots and rot the roots. The three testaments of creating good drainage for potted plants are:
- Have drainage holes: All pots used for growing herbs at home should have holes in the bottom. If the pot doesn’t have sufficient drainage holes, add some more using a masonry bit.
- Use the right soil: Mind that garden soil is not suitable for growing potted herbs: it lacks porosity and will thus deprive roots of oxygen. Use a lightweight porous potting mix that drains easily while retaining the moisture.
- Don’t use drainage materials: Contrary to common sense, drainage materials like rocks, pot shards, sand, pebbles or gravel should not be placed in the pot. They block the drainage holes and prevent water from moving through the pot.
Another reason why the water is not escaping the plant though the holes is because the hard surface underneath blocks it. Using a well-designed saucer or elevating the pot on bricks or stones will solve this problem.
Growing Herbs Indoors in Water
To start growing herbs in water, place a cutting from an established plant into a bottle with a spring, well, or rainwater. Soon, you will see it grow roots while remaining fresh and fragrant. Thus, you may plant the rooted herb into the soil or just enjoy the harvest.
Hydroponic systems expand on this principle allowing herbs to grow inside containers, supplying them with oxygenated water. Aquaponics fish tanks go a step further, letting you grow your herb garden on top of the fish tank. These systems allow the plant to grow on nutrients created by fish waste and food and, doing so, filter the water for the fish.
Instead of Conclusion
Last but not least recommendation in our herb growing guide is – love your herb garden. Tend to it, be attentive to the signs of decay, pet the plants gently imitating a summer wind. The power of talking to plants has long gained scientific proof, so if you are proud of your herb garden, let it be the first to hear it!