What’s better than garden-fresh vegetables? Veggies garnished with delicious, hand-picked herbs! Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow, adding fragrance and colour to any garden.
Most culinary herbs hail from the sunny Mediterranean, so they don’t fare well in our Canadian winters. But you can keep your herb garden growing all year round by bringing the plants indoors! Find out how to set up an indoor herb garden in five steps.
Choose a Container
Herbs aren’t picky about where they’re planted. Most store-bought planters, including the classic terracotta pot, can accommodate herbs. You can also repurpose old containers, like mason jars and cans, for a unique and creative herb container.
The main thing to consider when it comes to picking a planter is drainage. Any container you choose must have holes to allow excess water to drain. Without proper drainage, the roots of the plant can rot.
Since they don’t need much room to grow, you can plant multiple herbs in a single large planter. Just be sure each plant has the same water and sun requirements, and keep them trimmed so they don’t overshadow their neighbours.
Indoor container gardens require more frequent watering than your backyard garden. How often you need to water will depend on your choice of herbs and the size of the container. The smaller the container, the quicker it dries out. Choosing a proper potting soil with plenty of organic matter will help the container retain water without drowning the roots.
An easy way to tell whether a plant needs water is to insert your finger one inch below the soil; generally, if the soil is dry, the plant is thirsty. Some herbs, like thyme and sage, can tolerate drier conditions.
Set Up Lighting
Lighting is the tricky part of keeping your herb garden growing indoors. Most herbs need at least six hours of full sunlight per day, and Canadian winters don’t always cooperate in that regard.
The ideal place to keep an indoor herb garden is on the sill of a large, south-facing window that gets plenty of sun. However, if you really want your plants to thrive, it’s best to provide supplementary lighting. The Danby Fresh herb grower uses energy-efficient 100-watt LED lighting to provide a full colour spectrum that simulates the natural environment. Unlike other grow lights, the herb grower runs right out of the box, with no complicated wiring or set-up required!
Feed with Fertilizer
To keep your herbs growing well indoors, you may have to give them a dose of fertilizer. Potted plants have limited soil to begin with, and frequent watering washes away the nutrients over time. You can help by mixing in a slow-release fertilizer with the potting soil, then providing a small amount of plant food once the plants get established.
Trim and Harvest
With enough water, food and sunlight, your herbs will quickly take root and start thriving in their new home. At this point, you should start pruning the plants regularly to encourage new, dense growth. Use a pair of clean scissors or shears (ones you only use for plants) to cut the oldest stems first. Use the trimmings to spice up your meals, brew an herbal tea, or take a relaxing herbal bath!
If you intend to harvest your herbs for cooking, be sure to cut off any buds or flowers that form on the plant, as they become bitter and less flavourful after flowering.