Fresh herbs can do wonders to your food, and if you cook Italian food often, you’d agree without a second thought. But there are days when we don’t have any herbs stocked up at home and we choose to make do without them. But even the kids can testify that the food doesn’t taste its same fabulous self!
Now imagine how sorted it would be if you always had your herbs handy! Well, never forget that you can grow them indoors. It may not be one of the easiest choices to grow yourself, but it sure is rewarding enough. All you need to succeed is a well-lit area, the right kinds of herbs, and a heart full of passion for green decor.
To begin with, we would advise that you begin with healthy plants instead of bare seeds. That will give you a head-start of a few months, and you’d have already crossed the more crucial stages.
To begin with…
Look for a bright area in your house. It could be a balcony, a wide window that you wish to cover up, the sunroom, the staircase, or even the kitchen windowsill. Prefer to stick to the temperature of 15 to 25 degrees Celcius, and some excellent cross-ventilation. (If you have zeroed down on some windows, the place may get too cold in winters for some herbs to survive.)
Herbs like mint, parsley and chives can do well in about four to five hours of bright light, and some others require at least six. Also consider that natural light may be too mild in winters, you may need some more time in the sun. If at all your herbs begin to look a little leggy, don’t hesitate to move them elsewhere, or expose them to fluorescent lights.
Choosing the right pots and soil
Any container that is as deep as 6 inches or more is fit to be used for planting your herbs as long as it has drainage holes at the base. However, for the sake of giving enough room to the roots for their growth, pick the largest size that you can opt for.
Using a fast-draining potting mixture may have a few disadvantages. It stacks up at the bottom and forms a clay, thus smothering the roots. To replace that, get your hands on a premium mix, that has lightweight ingredients, like perlite or vermiculite. These loosen up and allow air into the final mix after the water gets drained out.
- How much water a plant needs or doesn’t need depends largely on its own size and type, the size and type of the container, and which season you are planting it in. When in winters, plants grow quite slow, since the light isn’t too intense. That further means they require less water too.
- Since you are working for herbs, allow the soil to dry slightly, basil, mint, chives and parsley go together like that. To judge when it is the right time to water the soil, stick your finger upto 1 inch deep into the soil, and see if the soil feels dry. If yes, it’s time.
- When the spring hits, you will see a noticeable growth in the herbs. Resort to watering them with a liquid fertilizer every four weeks. As an alternative, you can also bring home some organic fertilizer granules that can be scratched into the soil every month.
Experts points out that the Mediterranean plants like Rosemary, Thyme and Basil grow well when there is a little lime in their ‘diet’. It is suggested to use eggshells for that. The recipe? Well, just grind the eggshells together with a little water, and put a spoonful into each pot when you are readying the soil for potting.
Keep an eye on the health of your herbs, and replace the ones that are wilting despite your utmost care. If some plants look like they have stopped growing any further, they may have some feeding issues. Always keep the number of your locality’s gardener handy in your phone. They are the Plant Doctors, after all!
And hey, do not forget the best thing about your herb garden… you get to cook amazing stuff!