With the increased
availability of fresh herbs in the supermarket, we’re seeing more and more
recipes calling for fresh instead of dried herbs. Growing herbs at home
during warm weather is a rewarding and cost-saving practice- and one that
can be continued indoors during the colder months.
Indoors gardening takes into consideration the same principles that are
used when positioning plants in outdoor beds: light, temperature, soil,
maintenance and harvesting.
Most of the herbs we use in cooking
come from the warm climates of the Mediterranean and that means they’ll
need lots of light. When growing indoors, a south-facing window is ideal,
as it will provide the most light. Your plants will need at least four
hours of solid light each morning to thrive. In colder parts of the
country or in homes that don’t have windows that can provide suitable
light, using a fluorescent light works wonderfully – even as a supplement
to four hour in a southern window. Place the light six-inches above the
plants and leave on for 4-5 hours per day. You’ll be rewarded with fresh
herbs even in the coldest of winters.
Keeping the potted herbs warm is also
important. During the day, try to have temps as close to 70 degrees as
possible and at night keep temps around 60 degrees.
When growing herbs outdoors, they are
relatively maintenance free because most don’t have special soil
requirements. For indoor growing, use a typical potting soil enriched
with a little compost and one-part sand for better drainage. Also don’t
forget to line the bottom of your pot with either chards from other clay
pots, or one our favorites, volcanic rock which will also aid in drainage.
Maintenance and Harvesting
Even moisture is key to healthy
indoor herbs. Kitchens are often a great place to set-up your plants as
it is naturally more humid than the rest of the home. As a rule, it is
better to err on the side of being dry than too wet. Clay pots let roots
naturally breathe, but they can also dry out faster. Plus, don’t forget
that indoor plants need to be kept pinched or trimmed back by keeping
yellowing leaves removed and they also need to be dusted – simply mist the
leaves with water every few weeks. Harvesting the herbs for immediate use
or for drying or freezing is the best way to keep them pinched back and