Growing herbs indoors is a great experience, which is totally rewarding. When most of us think of indoor herb garden, we mostly imagine a garden patch outdoors with many herbs and spices. However, many people grow herbs and spices right in your kitchen and in other parts of your home. It will provide you with fresh ingredients and garnish for your meals, and save you a little money. Another advantage of indoor gardening is that you can grow healthy organic plants. Since you grew the herbs yourself, you know what went into their production. Also, it is a truly fulfilling experience. How to grow an indoor herb garden? Let us find out.
Best Herbs To Grow Indoors
Although you can grow every single plant indoors, you will still need to get the soil conditions, the lighting, watering, feeding, and even humidity right. Some plants are most choosy and are difficult to cultivate indoors, while other plants are perfect for indoor gardening. Here are some herbs that are easy to grow in any indoor herb garden: lemongrass (can even grow in a cup of water), chives, mint (grows like a weed), parsley, Vietnamese coriander, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and basil.
You can choose either start with seeds or stem cutting or by dividing up already established herbs.
Indoor Herb Garden Placement
Where to place your herb is very essential. The main reason is the almost all herbs require bright sunlight to grow very well. Herbs such as chives and rosemary require 5 hours of full sunlight to grow nicely. The placement of your herbs will have a huge impact on the final yield from your garden.
Indoor Herb Garden Layout
Everyone has preferences of designs based on indoor herb garden ideas. Many will like their indoor herb gardens to be located in the kitchen or near the kitchen, if the kitchen has a window that receives much sunlight, you can have the container garden right by the window. Most prefer it that way because you can see exactly what is happening to the plants at all time. Even if your kitchen does not receive enough sunlight, you can grow them right under a grow light. Most grow lights for hobbyist gardeners use very little energy. There are also kits that automate the gardening process.
Planning The Layout Of Your Indoor Herb Garden
You need to find a space that can accommodate your plants in all their pots or containers. The area must have access to enough light and space needs to be large enough. Herbs such as mint can grow very wild and bushy, if not pruned. It is advisable to grow mint, catnip, artemisia, comfrey, hops, horseradish, lemon balm, and tansy in their individual pots sine they can spread via underground runners and suffocate other plants in the same container.
A great place to grow your herbs and vegetables is on the balcony or porch. There is usually enough space there. You can get creative with your indoor herb garden.
Grow Rooms And Closets
If you plan to grow plants, on a yearly basis, you should invest in a grow room. These function as little greenhouses. They are enclosed and automated. They have air ducts for good circulation of air and grow lights for your plant. The outside is usually black in color, and this will prevent outside light from entering during the night and a highly reflective inside to maximize the efficiency of the grow lights.
When plants are grown together they tend to help each other out by attracting beneficial insects while repelling pests. They also improve the potting mix. Herbs can be planted with other herbs and even vegetables to great effect. For example growing tomatoes, capsicum peppers, carrots, and potatoes chives (including other alliums such as onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots) repel aphid, carrot flies, cabbage loopers, cabbage maggots among other insects. You should avoid growing alliums close to beans and other legumes. Basil also grows well with tomatoes and repels mosquitoes. Dill grows very well with cabbage, but you should not grow carrots and dill together. Growing mint close to tomatoes and cabbages repels cabbage moths.
There are tons of companion plants pairings out there. It is important to find out the best plants to grow near one another and which plants to avoid growing together.
This is important when you want to go organic and avoid the use of synthetic pesticides and such in your indoor herb garden.
Finding The Right Container
When choosing containers for your herbs, you can use clayey pots, fabric pots, or even plastic pots. Ceramic pots also do a great job although the drainage and aeration are poor as compared to clayey pots. You can also use objects found in the homes, such as buckets, old bottles, tea kettles, milk bottles, mason jars and much more. There is no need to spend so much on planters, if you already have objects lying around that can do the job.
Indoor Herb Garden Potting Mix And Soil
For growing herbs, you can use general purpose potting mix or any well-drained potting mix. These will do. You should avoid garden soil since they are not good for potted plants. They get compact and heavy easily in pots and may contain harmful pests, weed seeds, and microbes.
When growing herbs that such as parsley (Petroselinum), sage (Salvia officinalis), and others, you may want to pollinate the plants so they can produce seeds. Since there are no bees indoors to pollinate the plants, you need to do so yourself. Pollinating is as simple as shaking the plant gently every morning. It will release the pollen. A more precise way is to use a q-tip or thin paintbrush to transfer pollen to the stigma. It is best to pollinate the plants in the morning.
If all goes well, you will be harvesting your herbs between a month and two months’ time depending on the herbs grown. Just cut off the foliage. Continuous harvest is best and achievable in an indoor herb garden.
Many herbs are annual plants, meaning you will need to start them again, the next growing season.
Hydroponic Herb Gardening
Hydroponics makes gardening simple. The plants grow faster and the yields are more. Starting a hydroponic garden may be a little confusing since you will need to purchase several parts, build, and assemble them yourself. You will need to be quite handy. You can also purchase ready-to-use hydroponic garden kits such as the AeroGarden Herb Garden.
Many prefer hydroponics because it is clean, efficient, and fast. However, setting up a hydroponic system can be complicated. There are many techniques to choose between and a little home engineering involved. If you are up to the task, it can be a wonderful experience.
Small Space Indoor Herb Gardening
There are times when you have barely any space at all. At times like this, you need to be very creative. A vertical garden will allow you to grow many plants in almost no space. There are herb garden kits designed for growing a garden vertically. You can also make your own with a little bit of creativity. And you can even grow your indoor herb garden hanging down from a rail. You can grow plants such as tomatoes upside down.
Counter Top Herb Gardens
For some, the only space available for indoor herb garden is the container top. If the counter top is sunny, then it may be the perfect place to grow your parsley, and other herbs that can grow will little light. You can also provide your plants with extra light. A hanging CFL light bulb may be more than enough in providing the plants their light needs. You need grow lights that will provide the plants with all the spectrum of light needed for foliage production and so on. You can also acquire indoor herb garden kit. These make gardening simple since they provide you with seeds, lighting, fertilization and other needs. Some are even self-watering. The instructions are easy to follow and require little attention.
Some Advantages Of Indoor Herb Gardening
- Indoor herb gardening is versatile. You can grow your herbs on windowsills to make windowsill herb garden. Other ideas include well-lit rooms, counter top, balconies, patio, rooftop, and so on. You can also try interesting ideas like hanging herb garden.
- You can grow a wide variety of crops. Tropical plants will have difficulty growing in outdoor gardens, but with indoor gardening, you can grow them since you can regulate the temperature better.
- Less access to pests and weeds. Unlike outdoor gardens, weeds almost never find their way into your container gardens, and if they do, they are easy to deal with. The same can be said about pests and microbes. It is easy to contain and stop an infestation since you can simply remove the infested plant in its container.
- Plants are protected from hazard weather conditions that can harm them. Indoor plants are protected from weather conditions such as strong winds, extremely high and low temperatures, dry winds, and storms.
Starting Seeds Indoors
Before Starting The Seeds
- You may want to team up with a fellow gardener since seed packets usually contain far more seeds that needed. Keeping the seeds until the next growing seasons severely reduce their viability. When starting the seeds, you should follow the instructions that come with the seeds. As a general rule, annual herbs should be started indoors six weeks before the last frost in your vicinity. You can check the planting dates for seeds chart to be extra sure.
- If the packet calls for soaking, scratching and chilling of seeds in the fridge, do as such. The containers you use to start the plants must be clean. You can acquire seedling flats, starter plugs, peat pots and other containers designed for starting seeds. You can even use egg carton compartments. Just make sure to poke a few drainages holes along the bottom.
- Lastly label the containers.
Starting The Seeds
- You should fill the containers with a seedling mix just below the rim if you are not using starter plugs. To mix your own seedling mix, mix 1 part peat moss, 1 part perlite and 1 part perlite. Pour this mix into a large container and pour warm water to moisten the mix before using.
- Follow the instructions on the seeds packet. As a general rule, gently press the seed into the seedling mix with the rubber end of the pencil. When starting the seeds, choose the biggest.
- Cover the containers with black plastic. Make a few holes in the plastic for ventilation. Water regularly as instructed by the seeds packet.
- Use a mist sprayer to gently water the plants as this will prevent the seed from going deep into the mix. It also does not disrupt the soil structure. You can also use a meat-basting syringe.
- You can place the container on top of the refrigerator or even on a heating mat for plants. The temperature should be between 65 to 75°F (18 to 24°C).
- Once the seeds sprout, remove the plastic covering, and expose the seedlings to light.
- Finally, the seedling will develop a second pair of leaves. That means it is time to transplant the herbs. Some herbs can take as long as a month to germinate Do so carefully. Mix your potting mix with compost. Move your plant to their new home and water well. Keep the pot away from direct sun for a few days.
Indoor Herb Gardening Tips
- Acquire quality seeds and plants to begin. The better the seeds, the easier they are to start. The few extra cents will be worth it.
- Plant in good potting mix. Good potting mix should drain properly, and allow for good aeration.
- Protect your indoor garden from your pets, if you own any. Pets such as cats and dogs may want to nibble, lick or claw the plants. It can easily damage the plants. You can protect the plants with a cage. You should also provide non-toxic alternates for the pets.
- Supplement sunlight received from the sun with artificial lighting. Even if you find a spot where the plants receive sunlight, you can supplement that with artificial lighting. Light promotes growth.
- Invest in a humidifier. Some herbs prefer high humidity. It may not be possible indoors. Grouping plants together help increase the humidity levels. You can also mist the plants regularly. However, misting can harm the leaves as wet leaves promote the development of harmful fungal spores and bacteria. The best option is to get a good quality humidifier that improves the humidity with clean sterilized water droplet.
- Keep plants away from drafty windows and vents. Counter tops, mantles, shelves, tables, windowsills, balconies are all excellent locations to place the potted plants.
Indoor Herb Garden is an essential as well as wonderful experience if you are planning on indoor gardening or have never tried it before. Make sure to try as it is a simple and fruitful experience.