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Growing an indoor herb garden is the perfect solution to the apartment dweller who enjoys cooking with fresh ingredients. To grow herbs from seed is cheap and economical, surprisingly quick and very often self-sustaining. A few simple steps are all that are required for creating a successful and rewarding herb garden. Check out our tips for Herb Gardening Indoors.
Container gardening has space implications, so it is advisable to select the herbs that are commonly used. An essential culinary herb garden would include varieties such as Sweet Basil, Thyme, Parsley, Chives, Marjoram or Oregano, and Rosemary. Coriander is always on the list of ingredients for curries, and a small Bay tree planted in a separate container doubles as an ornamental plant.
Herb Gardening Indoors
- Container (size suitable to location)
- Base tray (optional but recommended)
- Potting soil
- Herb seeds
Choose a sunny spot in the kitchen. If space is available, a larger container will allow for several complimentary of herbs to co-exist. Alternatively, several smaller pots will do just as well. Position the containers for easy access for watering, harvesting,and general maintenance.
The container should have good drainage, either in the form of several holes in the base or a shallow layer of stones. A base tray will contain the excess water and soil that may drain through the holes. Fill the container/s with good quality potting soil. Dampen, but don't drench the soil.
The information found on the seed packets is based on outdoor growing conditions, and the indoor gardener can anticipate a much shorter time to germination and harvesting. Sprinkle a few seeds of each herb in the potting soil and keep the rest in the packet for the next season. Lightly dig the seeds into the top 3mm of soil and water. It is a good idea to insert a marker at the site of each herb with the name and date of sowing.
Indoor plants require regular watering as they have no access to other natural sources of water from the soil or rain.
Once the seedlings are established after a few days, it may be necessary to pull out a few of the plants to allow space for growth and avoid overcrowding. An application of mulch will help to slow evaporation.
Reap the Rewards
A few weeks after sowing, the fresh herbs will be ready for use and can be used liberally to complement and enhance almost any recipe. When a recipe calls for dried herbs, double this amount when using fresh herbs. Remember to tear the larger leaves, instead of cutting them up to release maximum flavor. Harvesting is as easy as pinching off the growth points in the case of Sweet Basil, Marjoram and Thyme. Chives are simply trimmed with a pair of scissors. A herb garden will thrive with regular harvesting, regular watering, and trimming of dead leaves and excess, stringy growth.
The annual herbs such as Coriander, Parsley, and certain varieties of Sweet Basil, will eventually come to the end of their growing season and start to seed. Pull these plants out and either use the space for planting something else or simply wait for the seeds to germinate and start the growth cycle all over again. This is a good time to feed the potting soil. Choose either to incorporate some compost with the potting soil or purchase a slow-release fertilizer stick and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
An indoor herb garden provides a ready source of fresh herbs after a simple process and very little ensuing maintenance. This is an excellent return on a small investment.
What are good herbs to start with when Herb Gardening Indoors?
- Basil - a spicy, clove-like taste and scent. Use it in tomato dishes, soups, and stew.
- Bay - one leaf or a pinch, fresh or dried, improves nearly all savory dishes, vegetable soups, stews, and pot roasts.
- Chives (garlic and regular) - ever useful and more subtle than their onions cousins. Garlic chives are a great substitute for those who can't eat garlic.
- Dill - goes with almost everything, both leaves and seeds. Superb with fish, lamb chops, and cottage cheese.
- Marjoram - swe3e3t, tangy taste is a natural for eggplant, summer squash, or pastas. Perfect with chicken.
- Mint - comes in a variety of flavors with delicious aroma. Smip into salads, fresh fruits, peas, and meatballs. Great in teas too!
- Oregano - the spicey "pizza" herb, it's an Italian and Spanish standby. Great in meat dishes with mushrooms, broccoli, and zucchini.
- Parsley - not just a garnish! It's a delicious ingredient of soups, sauces, herb spreads, and cottage cheese.
- Sage - the pungent staple of stuffings, and roasted meats. Throw a big leaf in when you're cooking peas. Sprinkle on Brussels sprouts.
- Tarragon - lends authority to salad dressings, vinegars, herb spreads, all fish and shellfish (baked or broiled). Sprinkle lightly over poultry before roasting - and add to any chicken soup.
- Thyme - the chef's meat and poultry secret. It's all-around, aromatic, a nice surprise with onions and eggplant. Lemon thyme, a variety you must grow yourself, is an excellent blending herb - delicious on fish, along with marjoram.