Spice up Your Kitchen: Grow Your Own Herbs Indoors NOW!
If you love to cook, than I am sure you love to use fresh herbs whenever possible. I know I do. Here are some tips of the trade when it comes to growing your own herbs right in your kitchen.
- WHAT to Grow: choose small-leaf herb varieties if you can, they will maintain the best in small pots indoors in a kitchen space. Herbs like Oregano naturally have small leaves but for herbs like Basil you will want to go with a Fino Verde, which only has 1/2-inch leaves. Mint is another example of an herb that has small leaf varieties.
- Basil: grows great from seed and loves lots of light
- Bay leaf: grows well in containers but do not crowd it, it needs good air circulation
- Chives: love the sun and grow heartily in small pots.
- Dill: use Ferleaf variety as it stays small and grows well from seed.
- Mint: comes in two varieties:spearmint and peppermint. Also does well in sun.
- Oregano: does best when started from a cutting of an outdoor plant. Does well in full sun.
- Parsley: does well from seed. Loves full sun but will grow slow if it gets too hot.
- Rosemary: can start well from cutting, keep moist.
- Sage: also does well from an outdoor cutting. Can tolerate dry indoor air but needs sun.
- Tarragon: needs a dormant period late fall/early winter, will do well with organic fertilizer
- Thyme: can transplant or use cutting. Likes full sun, but can grow in partial sun as well.
- THEY’RE FREE!! snag your own from an existing plant: If you have some growing outside, or know someone with some healthy herbs that you would like for your kitchen that healthy and abundant, your indoor plants will thrive the best using a 4-inch cutting from the branch of these existing plants. Snip off a section about 4 inches long from the tip down, strip off the lower leaves and just stick the stem into moist, soil-less mix; a mixture consisting of pearlite or vermiculite. Cover the container temporarily with glass or clear plastic to ensure good humidity and keep the growing conditions moist until the roots have settled. (you can use an old soda liter bottle or to go containers from restaurants for this) Once the cuttings have grown to about 2 inches you can transplant into regular potting soil in an indoor pot of your choice. Another option is to let your outdoor herbs go to seed and then spread the seeds in a small indoor pot.
- WATER and LIGHT: It has been said, Herbs like to be well watered, but don’t like to have wet feet. That’s why you need to make sure you have effective drainage in your planting container. Only water when the top of the container feels dry. You can add more sand or vermiculite to your potting soil to help with drainage. Pay attention to your water, light and temperature. A little FYI: an herb planted in a clay pot in a south-facing window spot will need more water than one in a plastic pot in an east-facing window. If your kitchen is windowless you can purchase a hydroponic growing system that will also work well for indoor growing. I also recommend rotating the plants each week. If a plant consistently gets sunlight on the same side every day it will have weak growth , but by rotating the plants around you will ensure they grow straight and strong because all sides of the plants receive adequate light.
- SOIL: you could just buy a simple potting soil from a local nursery or go with a premium mixture by mixing one part potting soil, one part compost, one part pearlite, vermiculite or sand (or to go crazy do a mixture of all three!). Some people like having one large pot with a mixture of herbs planted in them with one specific theme, like an “Italian” herb planter… but for the sake of rotation for sunlight, moisture control and soil consistency… if you have the space, I would recommend separate pots for each herb you would like to grow.
- WHEN: Because of the bright sun and increased indoor light, February is a GREAT time to start growing your herbs indoors. They should have buds coming up by March and growing heartily by April. But most indoor plants can grow well year round, granted they get a decent amount of sun and your household temperatures are maintained. Many herbs will have a temporary dormant period, but don’t fret, they will return full and thriving in no time.
- SNIP SNIP SNIP: prune regularly! Fortunately for you that is your intended purpose for this plants. You can dry out sprigs of the herbs or chop them and use them fresh in your meals. Either way, it is very important you regularly pinch the plants, meaning trim the stems down so they maintain a bushy growth, the more you let them grow UP or OUT in one direction the more likely you are to have them go to seed. If your herb flowers, you haven’t been trimming it often enough. Also, unlike other sensitive plants, the more you pinch the more they will grow. So snip away and happy cooking!!