Nothing beats a home cooked meal, and certainly nothing beats fresh herbs to season the food with. Store-bought herbs sold in bulk are fine in a pinch, but true gourmets will always advocate using freshly picked garden herbs. It is not only much more inexpensive, it will make people think you spent a fortune to prepare delicious meals. You only use what is needed at any given time, while the remainder of the herbs will continue to flourish and grow, providing you with no end of flavors that are right there in the home.
Growing Your Own Herbs Is Easy!
It’s very easy to start your own herb garden indoors, whether it is transplants from the garden or starting from scratch. Plants that are already grown and re-transplanted will do better than seed, and grow much faster. Rather than spend a fortune trying to find just the right herbs for your next big dinner, just take the time to care for an herb garden. The results will be worth it and so will the grocery savings!
Indoor herb gardens often do better than ones grown outside because it is easier to manage the temperature and lighting. It is best to grow herbs by giving them at least 14 hours a day of artificial light or 6-8 hours of natural sunlight.
Windowsills are optimum growing areas for herbs, especially if the plan is to use natural sunlight.
Temperatures should be kept as stable as possible, with a normal room temperature of 65-70 degrees.
Fans and opened windows should be kept as constant as possible to allow proper air movement to circulate. Pushing out bacteria-laden air and replacing it with oxygen rich fresh air will keep the herbs growing freely.
Mediums for Growing Herbs
The medium for growing the herbs should be a light, easily drained soil that can be made at home. Simply by using one part sand, one part peat moss and one part regular potting soil, the perfect home can be made for the herbs to thrive.
Fertilizing Your Herbs
Fertilizer should be used with the specific herbal needs, and again, this can be made at home. They do require more maintenance with fertilizer when grown indoors as opposed to outdoors, so it is important to check what needs each particular herb has.
Watering Your Herbs
Watering with many herbs should be monitored so that the soil is never completely dried out, but is also not saturated. This should be double checked however, as some herbs actually thrive with a bit of neglect.
To avoid pests, place stick traps near the indoor garden to keep pests away and use a light soapy solution for controlling harmful infestations.
Herb Garden Containers
Containers for herb gardens are the quickest way to get results. Nearly any container is suitable, as long as it has holes in the bottom for draining water. Self-watering containers can be efficient, but only with herbs that don’t need to be dried out a bit between waterings. Different herbs can be grown in the same container as long as they all have the same basic needs for nutrition and lighting. It is up to the individual how many plants are desired in the container, as most do fine with a little overcrowding. Herbs can also be mixed in any container type garden to add a decorative and aromatic flair to any mixture of plants that have similar tending needs. The more herbs that are picked and pinched back, the more bountiful they will grow again.
The Windowsill Herb Garden
If the plan is to grow herbs in a kitchen windowsill for easy access, make sure it is in a south or southeast window so it will get an average of at least 5-6 hours of direct daylight. It should also be in an area that has as few drafts as possible. Containers for windowsill herb gardens should be at least 6 inches deep and can be up to 12 for larger window frames. A few inches of potting soil mixture is all that is needed to get started on a lovely herb garden that will offer handy seasonings right where it is needed most.
Herbs That Are Easy To Grow
There are several types of herbs that can be grown easily, although they do all have specific needs. Herbs that have similar tending requirements can be grown together.
Some herbs are better grown in pots or tubs rather than the trough system of growing in a windowsill, and some need more lighting than others. If there is no adequate lighting from natural light, then using “grow” lights or any fluorescent lighting will do. Remember, if it is artificial lighting, then more time (anywhere from 12-14 hours) is needed daily. Overwatering will cause the roots to rot, so make sure plenty of air and drainage for the water is available.
Sage, (also known as *Salvia officinalis*) is one of the most popular and is easily grown in a trough or a pot.
Sage has been grown for hundreds of years and admired for the savory flavor it can add to foods as well as its healing benefits. It does best in direct lighting or sunlight, and should be fed every couple of weeks with a mild nutrient fertilizer and watered often enough to keep from completely drying out (about once a week), in an adequately drained container.
Tarragon will grow well in full pots and can tolerate some shade better than many herbs.
Thyme will grow well in either pots or troughs, but it is essential not to water too much. This particular herb needs water only sparingly and the best test is when the soil has dried, it is time to water and allow to drain well.
Mint grows well in a potted environment with soil that is kept damp and temperatures cooled. It is important to keep it well lit but not in too much direct sunlight or grow lights. The leaves on the mint are very fragile, and too much heat and light will damage them.
Chives are often grown in the outside garden, but can be easily transplanted indoors. They need a bit more fertilizer and water, so a good dose of both once or twice a week with proper drainage offers the best growing environment for this tasty herb.
Basil grows best in pots with a little bit of pinching back done to keep the herb from flowering too much. This versatile and popular herb is used in many dishes from the Mediterranean and can add a subtle flavor to many meat and pasta dishes. It needs as much sunlight as possible, and the air should be periodically dry to stress the plant to grow better.
Chervil is another one good for the windowsill and does best in sunlight that is not overhead and direct. The soil should remain cool and moist at all times.
Parsley is another easy herb to grow in smaller, compact pots. Watering should be done just enough to keep the soil from getting too dry and it should be fed a couple of times a month with a weak fertilizer and a stable temperature of around 60 degrees.
Marjoram, depending on the variety, needs a cool, dry place, although sweet marjoram thrives better in a warmer room. Watering and feeding should be done as needed, with careful attention paid to the pruning of the marjoram leaves. Too much will hinder growth and not enough will overwhelm the pot.
Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2011 HousePlantsForYou.com all rights reserved.