Growing Herbs Indoors: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Fresh Herbs From Your Kitchen
One of the greatest benefits of growing herbs indoors is the delicious aroma that they will give your home. A few pots on your windowsill will create a stunning kitchen garden. In addition to growing all year round, you can also grow herbs indoors, so you'll always have fresh herbs at your disposal.
You don't have to have green thumbs, as it's fairly easy to grow herbs indoors with minimal care. However, some herbs require extra attention regarding space, hours of sunlight and temperature control. The main considerations are sunlight, water level, and positioning.
For the best results in your indoor herb garden, you'll want to ensure it's in a sunny window and warm spot. Ideally, go for south-facing window boxes or windowsill with minimal drafts. Ensure your culinary herbs get plenty of light throughout the day, at least 6 hours of sunshine — but keep an eye on any draughty conditions. If your window doesn't offer enough sunlight, a grow light can be used as a substitute. These need to be close to the seeds (2-3 inches) and raised over time as they emerge and mature.
Selecting herbs for indoor growing
When selecting herbs for your indoor garden, opting for those typically more compact that do not reach great heights is recommended. Basil, Chives, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary and Thyme typically fit this description and are popular herbs, offering diverse flavours for all dishes. Coriander can be grown indoors, too, but its strong aroma may not always be desirable inside the home.
Containers for your herb garden
When setting up containers for your herb garden, place the dampened seed-starting soil about 1 inch from the rim. Space out your seeds on top of the soil and press down gently, keeping the surface loose. Provide a clear plastic bag or specialist dome cover to retain moisture and raise humidity levels.
Regularly water the soil, keeping it moist until you see the seedlings sprouting, then remove the covering and keep it moist but not overly wet. Make sure they get plenty of sunlight and turn their container daily, so they grow up straight. When they reach 2-4 inches tall, move them into a bigger pot or split them between several smaller ones.
You'll need a pot or container at least 6 to 12 inches wide and deep when setting up your herb garden containers. Depending on their size when mature, and their individual needs, you may be able to use one large container for multiple herbs. Don't forget to make sure it has drainage holes and includes a saucer to collect excess water.
With the best quality potting mix suited to the herbs you are planting, add a few inches of it to the bottom of the pot before gently placing the young plant with its roots loosened from its original pot. Next, fill up the container with your compost or soil, patting down lightly until firm but not compacted. Finish by giving your plants a light watering to help them settle in.
Caring for your indoor herb garden
When providing adequate care for your indoor herbs, every plant will have different needs. Pay attention to how much water each requires, taking care not to overwater. Also, pay close attention when fertilising - too much or adding too often can be detrimental.
Make sure to use a fertiliser specifically formulated for edible plants and adjust the frequency and amounts depending on the season. With these tips in mind, you should have success nurturing your herbs!
When it comes to using indoor herbs, give them some time to adjust to their new environment. For newly seeded plants, you can harvest once they reach 6 inches tall and, for nursery plants, begin to use them when you spot fresh growth.
When snipping your plants, employ the right tools to avoid damaging the stems. As a general rule of thumb when cutting herbs, trim 2-3 inches from the tips or if snipping an entire stem from outside of the plant is necessary (such as parsley and chives), limit this fraction to a third only so that the plants don't sustain too much stress.
Finally, take advantage of all your hard work in the kitchen by trying out recipes with these herbs or adding them to dishes that you already love - one new herb can open up a bouquet of flavours!
An alternative to growing your own is to purchase potted herbs; here at The Culinary Herb, we supply our potted herbs to shops, restaurants, hotels, cocktail bars, small garden centres, landscapers and farmers' markets. All our herbs are 100% UK-grown and 100% fresh.