Growing Herbs at Home:
I often experiment with different vegetables during my indoor growing session. What I grow under my LED grow lights can be dependent on the time of year and, to be quite honest, my mood. I do however often include herbs as my interest in growing herbs indoors and outdoors never seems to wane. Herbs are a great and refreshing way to keep the indoor garden growing year round and they take up very little space. I love to include the herbs I grow in various recipes and so always having fresh herbs handy is not only convenient, but also much more affordable than constantly buying them at the local market. There are such a wide variety of herbs that one can grow under an LED grow light that the possibilities seem endless, and the outcomes are always amazing! I grow herbs in pots in my house, but I also grow them outdoors when the weather is appropriate. This post will focus on growing herbs in an indoor setting. My hope is that this article can shed a little light on herb growing basics for the indoor gardener, while also giving supplemental information about the herbs and how they can be utilized. I hope this information can help you start your own indoor herbs or give an indoor grower a new and fresh perspective on a familiar routine.
Basics that You Will Need to Start Your Indoor Herb Garden:
- Individual Starting Cells that have Drainage Holes At the Bottom – the starting cells that I use are plastic and I keep another plastic drainage bin under the starting cells to collect excess water
- Larger pots – again, the pots that I utilize are plastic – the larger pots are 8″ inches in diameter or bigger depending on the type of herb or the amount of the herb that I decide to grow – I sometimes start my herbs in a smaller cell and then transfer them to a larger pot once they are mature – other times I start them in the larger pot if I am planting more or considering a transition to outdoors once the plants are mature and ready
- Potting Soil and Organic Medium Mix – I utilize store bought potting soil and an organic medium made from coconut to mix into the soil for positive water retention
- Grow light or a good spot in the house that receives a healthy dose of sunlight throughout the day
- Non-specific watering tools to keep the soil moist during the grow process
Starting the Herbs in my Indoor Herb Garden:
Although some will recommend forgoing seed starting and buying the herb starter plants from the market, I disagree. It is much more rewarding to start the herb plants from seed yourself, and it is also more economical. One reason that I grow vegetables and herbs from seed is to save money, so it definitely defeats the purpose if one spends too much money on buying plants that are already started. I start the herbs in individual cells under the grow light. It has been relatively easy and one does not need to have an expert green thumb to get them going and growing. The soil mixture is half store bought potting soil and half organic medium made from coconut that I mix together. Herbs can be susceptible to additional problems when outside soil is brought in and so I recommend going with the store bought potting mixture every time. For more information on the soil mixture I use when starting seeds, click the link here. The cells that I use to fill with soil mixture are generally 4 inches deep and can be up to 10 inches deep. I like to plant the herbs in individual cell units so that I can move them around conveniently during the grow process. I may want to move the cells into different arrangements under my grow light to make sure that one plant does not get better light for a longer period than any other plant. In general, I fill the two by two cells approximately 3 quarters of the way up with my prepared soil mixture and then I start the herb seeds according to the directions on the herb packet. Make sure to keep the soil moist, without over-watering, once the seeds are set. If you can stick your finger into the soil a half inch and the soil does not stick to your finger at all, then it is to dry and your start-up is in danger of not starting at all. Also, be sure to have starting cells that have drainage holes at the bottom to decrease the chance of over-saturation. My cells all have drainage holes on the bottom and fit nicely into another rectangular plastic bin that collects any excess water that drains through the cell holes. You can get the starting cells and underlying shell at most big box stores that have an outdoor gardening section. Lowes, Walmart and Home Depot are places close to me that have the basics for this activity. It is quick and easy and if done correctly, you can expect to see the Herbs sprout in about ten days, give or take a few based on the Herb seed being started.
Herbs that are Easy to Grow and are Included in My Garden Every Time:
Herbs are hardy plants that over the centuries have been used in many ways. Herbs not only flavor our foods, but can cure ailments, provide fragrance to a variety of products and are colorful additions to our gardens and homes. Most herbs can be dried, frozen, or best stored in oil or vinegar.
Below is a list of the herbs that I often grow in my indoor herb garden. I have had success growing these herbs in an indoor setting under an LED grow light:
Basil is one of my favorite herbs because it is delicious served fresh in foods and as a garnish. Basil can be dried for use in potpourri or saches or used in cosmetic products like soap. Fresh basil is fragrant and vibrant as a centerpiece alone in a vase, or in any floral arrangement and can be stored on the kitchen counter for days to make retrieval for cooking easy, just tear a few leaves off as needed!
Chives can be used fresh , frozen or dried. Fresh chives can be chopped and sprinkled over cream cheese spreads, baked potatoes , eggs, fish , chicken, or soups. If cooking with chives, add in the last few moments of cooking for optimal flavor. Chives can hang dry , but will prove to be less flavorful or they can be chopped and frozen for optimal retention of flavor. Chive flowers can be used in wreaths and floral arrangements when hung dry.
Parsley and Cilantro Overview:
Parsley and cilantro look similar , although cilantro has a very distinct citrus flavor. Both are used fresh as garnishes as well as in salads, soups, stews, marinades and on potatoes. Both can be frozen, but cilantro is not usually dried.
Spearmint has an amazing fragrance that can permeate with a gentle breeze or brushing with your fingers. Spearmint is most often used fresh or frozen. Spearmint is amazing as an additive to sweet tea, just clip a few leaves and add it to the brewing tea! Spearmint is also well known for its role in Mojitos , candy and jellies. Spearmint is used in a variety of cosmetic products including toothpaste and mouthwash, and the oils are thought to calm the stomach. We use spearmint to ward off the ill affects of car sickness!
When it is time to Harvest:
Once your herbs are mature, it is time to harvest! It is a good idea to harvest often once the herbs have reached maturity (normally after the plant has reached 6″ or taller), but be careful not to harvest too much each time. Snip off the herbs with gardening or culinary snips and be careful not to take off more than 35 to 40 percent of the new growth each time. Some herbs, like parsley will grow new leaves from the center out and so the old branches will need to be completely removed to make room for new growth from the center. This is not too difficult to perfect and will become more obvious once you actually see the plant’s growing pattern happening. As long as you continue to snip and harvest the new growth, herbs should continue to produce for several months. Snipping herbs regularly encourages branching and new growth.
I hope that this post on the herbs that I grow helps you to grow the herbs that you like best. Please use this information to grow big at home! Good Luck.