Garden Guide: How to Grow Herbs
Who says growing has to be limited to the outdoors? Growing herbs indoors can be a great way to put your green thumb to good use throughout the year, in even the harshest winter climates.
With an indoor herb garden, you’ll have plenty of fresh herbs on hand for cooking or adding a little extra flavor to your favorite dishes — without having to spend a fortune at the grocery store. Adding herbs to your foods can provide an additional source of vital nutrients for you and your family. Growing herbs can also be fun and a great way to relieve stress.
Creating the Ideal Herb Growing Conditions
While indoor herb gardens are not dependent on the weather, you do need to establish the right conditions inside your home. A windowsill that receives at least five to six hours of sunlight per day can do the trick. You should also keep the temperature between 60° and 70° F throughout the entire growing period.
The easiest way to get started on growing herbs in your home is to purchase herb starter plants from your local greenhouse or nursery. (You can also grow herbs from seed, but the growing process takes a bit longer and is more labor intensive). There are a number of herbs that can thrive indoors including:
- Lemon balm
Soil selection is an important consideration, as many herbs are highly susceptible to soil-borne diseases. Purchasing an organic potting mix is always your best bet. As far as growing containers, terracotta planters that are six to 12 inches deep with holes in the bottom for drainage work well with herbs.
When planting, pour a three-inch layer of potting mix into your container, place your plants on top, and fill the rest of the container with the mix. Make sure to leave a one-inch space at the top to allow for watering. Press the soil firmly in place and add water. Place a tray or saucer under your container to capture the excess water as it drains, and place it on your windowsill or other sunny spot in your home.
Watering and Plant Maintenance
How much water is the appropriate amount for your herb plants? It depends on how dry or humid your home is. You can easily test the soil by inserting your index finger up to the first knuckle. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to add more water. You can tell if you are overwatering your plants when the leaves begin to turn yellow.
Be sure to rotate your containers on a regular basis to ensure even exposure to the sunlight as the plants grow. Regular clipping of your plants can promote proper plant growth.
Preventing Herb Plant Disease
In addition to choosing the appropriate soil for your herb plants, applying a fungicide can help ward off diseases that can prevent your plants from reaching maturity. Safer® Brand offers easy-to-use fungicides that are compliant for use in organic gardening. They can even be applied directly on edible plants such as herbs — right up until the day of harvest.