Apartment and city living doesn’t mean we have to give up gardening. You can grow things like spinach and herbs right inside your home. Freshly grown herbs for your home cooking can be available to you year-round. If the right herbs are chosen to be grown and cared for according to specification for each, you can have your home feeling like your own personal market.
So, which herbs grow best indoors? Consider these to get the most out of your indoor herb garden:
Growing herbs indoors requires special considerations compared to an outdoor garden. With this care and harvest guide on the best herbs to grow indoors, you will have access to fresh seasoning for various sauces and meals.
Thyme is a highly-flavorful herb that is available year-round. It makes a great addition to soups and sauces as well as for coating fish and other meats such as roasts.
When to Buy
Thyme can be purchased any time of year as a young plant from your nursery. However, it is best to purchase in the spring as thyme should not be harvested in the winter.
Pick a container size for your thyme to accommodate having extra room for the roots. Repot with regular potting mix, replacing the soil every 1 to 2 years.
Thyme requires a warm and sunny spot to grow. Ideally, place it on a south facing window sill or balcony. Depending on the time of year you may also place it in the window that gets the most sun and rotate it to different spots throughout the day. Indoor herb growing lamps are beneficial when tight on space.
Ensure the use of a pot with adequate drainage holes. Be careful as over-watering without drainage will cause your plant to rot. Only water your thyme when the topsoil is dry.
Leaves can be harvested all year but it is a good idea to leave the plant to rest over the winter when it is cooler and plant growth is reduced. Harvesting can begin when your plant is looking bushy and plentiful. Be attentive to not pick too many leaves off your plant at any one time.
A sweetly aromatic and easy to grow option for an indoor herb is basil. Available in a variety of leaf colors and flavors, basil is best added to tomato-based dishes, soups, and sauces. Prepare and use fresh basil chopped up or whole.
When To Buy
If planting your basil from seed you will want to start early in the spring, otherwise, young plants will be available at the garden center in late spring.
Regular potting mix will be sufficient for planting and repotting your basil. Situate your pot in a south facing window. Your plant will benefit from a warm room with good airflow and ventilation. Basil likes to be well watered but will rot if not provided with plenty of drainage. With a proper pot, you can water this herb every 2 to 3 days. You will want to avoid wetting the leaves during watering and it is not recommended to mist.
When leaves sprout and you are ready to use your basil, pinch off the leafy tips of the plant including the stem. Leave the bottom leaves as harvesting from the top of the plant encourages new growth. The goal is to avoid flowering, as the herb loses its flavor once this happens.
The cooling and sweet herb that is mint is another great option for growing indoors. Mint is available in the classic spear or peppermint, as well as a variety of sweet and fruity undertones such as chocolate, strawberry, and orange. Use whole mint leaves in a salad for a refreshing taste. Also great for use in cold or hot drinks.
When To Buy
Check your local nursery in spring or early summer to shop for a large variety of mints. You could also try shopping for root cuttings from other garden enthusiasts and grow it yourself.
Repot your mint into a container with sufficient diameter and depth to prevent roots from growing through the drainage holes. Mint plants require semi-shade with a cooler environment. Try rotating your plant to give equal light around the leaves, encouraging strong even leaf growth around the stems. Water when topsoil is dry.
Mint can be harvested as soon as the leaves begin to grow. Take what you need as harvesting encourages more growth. There is no particular method when harvesting. You can pluck leaves from the stem as you need, or trim the plant down by clipping at the stem.
This herb is nutrient rich containing vitamins such as A, K, and C. With a distinctive flavor, parsley can mix in or top a variety of foods in hot or cold dishes.
When To Buy
Purchase your parsley in early spring from a nursery. Alternatively, you can grow it from seed a few weeks before when the cold begins to lift and your pots can be placed on a warm window sill.
Repot your young plants into containers 1 to 2 sizes up with regular potting soil or soil rich in organic matter. Use a pot with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Water accordingly when the topsoil is dry.
Parsley can only be harvested every other year. Its first year produces the desired flavorful leafy bunches, while the second year brings about an unpleasant bitter flavor in the form of flowers. It is ready to harvest when a stem has three leaf segments. Trim the flowers in the off-year.
This shrub grows with needles resembling pines and has diverse flavors with a woodsy aroma. The unique herb rosemary is commonly used in roast dishes of vegetables or meats.
When To Buy
If you have a garden center nearby that is open year-round, you should be able to purchase your rosemary there any time. Purchased young plants can be repotted up two pot sizes.
Rosemary is susceptible to rot if left sitting in soggy soil. Prevent rot by ensuring a proper amount and size of drainage for your pot dimensions. This herb requires plenty of sunlight. Place in a sunny window, preferably south-facing. Lack of sunlight is the number one reason a rosemary plant will show signs of distress.
Although available year-round, rosemary should not be harvested in the winter. Due to the colder season bearing less sunlight, growth is extremely stunted during the winter season. During the other seasons, pick your rosemary by trimming only a few stem tips at one time.
If you find your herbs growing faster than you can use them, there are two easy ways to store your abundant harvest of herbs.
Freshly pruned stems can be placed standing in a little cup of water and stored in the fridge. You may also wrap the exposed cutting in a wet paper towel before going into the fridge.
You may also want to consider dehydrating for long term storage. This is done with a food dehydrator or placing in the oven at 170 degrees F for 2-4 hours.
With proper plant care, your herbs will thrive, delivering on a strong yield. Growing in suitably sized pots with drainage, water accordingly with their needs. Being mindful to provide adequate sunlight.
Be patient and give your herbs time to grow, appropriate harvesting will warrant a continuous supply in your garden.
Altogether, your indoor herb garden can boast diverse levels of flavor to add to your cooking. Be proud of your green thumb displaying on your windowsill with aromatic and decorative plants.