If you’ve enjoyed opening the door and going out to your summer garden to clip fresh herbs, you don’t have to give that up just because the temperatures are falling. Why not consider planting pots of fresh herbs you can grow indoors?
Starting a kitchen herb garden is a great idea because…
Dried herbs are good, but they’re not nearly as wonderful as fresh herbs.
You can take rooted cuttings from your outdoor garden. Start that as soon as possible!
You can also grow herbs from seed packets.
When you choose the right herbs, they’re fairly easy to grow.
Most are ready to harvest within a few weeks.
Carefully select your herbs to grow indoors.
So we can probably guess that you don’t want a huge rosemary bush taking over your kitchen. (It would smell glorious, though, wouldn’t it?) But there are some herbs that are fantastic choices for growing indoors. They include:
These herbs don’t have the kind of woody, bushy growth that, say, our rosemary friend has. In fact, the herbs on our list are so easy to grow, many times they’re recommended for school science projects.
Just understand that you will need to know the light, humidity and air circulation requirements for each herb you choose.
Find a suitable location
An indoor herb garden will thrive if you can give it a sunny location (at least six hours of sun in a south or west window), and conditions that are somewhat cool (65° to 70° during the day and 55° to 60° at night). They also like slightly elevated humidity and good air circulation. That means you need to keep them away from radiators and heat ducts, which will quickly dry them out.
Prepare your pots
Herbs are fast-growing and can quickly fill a pot with roots (in less than one growing season), so choose larger containers that are deep enough to accommodate that root growth. And make sure your pots can drain well. When roots begin emerging through the drainage holes, it’s time to repot your herbs.
Now for the dirt on dirt. A standard potting soil works well for most herbs. Pause here for a shameless plug for FoxFarm Happy Frog Potting Soil available at the Garden Market.
Herbs with a more tropical heritage (such as thyme and oregano) would appreciate a more porous mixture, such as a blend of cactus potting mix and standard potting mix.
Fill your container with what’s appropriate for your herb, leaving about 1/2 inch clear at the top. This will allow for some settling and, more importantly, leave room for watering.
Plant your herbs
Transplant your herb plants or your rooted cuttings, or plant your herb seeds, and water thoroughly. Allow your pots to drain until there’s no more dripping, then place them on the windowsill or under grow lights with a tray underneath to catch any dripping water.
If your indoor air is especially dry—which may happen as we get deeper into winter—set your herb pots on trays of stones.
Fill the trays with water, but keep the level below the drainage holes on the pots. This will give them the right amount of humidity they need.
Tend and harvest!
Let the soil of your herb plants dry out just slightly between waterings.
And just like other potted plants, your indoor herbs will need a bit more feeding than if they were in your outdoor garden.
Give them well-diluted, water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks or so.
Finally, turn your pots regularly so your herbs grow evenly in the sun.
Big question… When can you start harvesting? When your indoor herbs are just a few inches tall. In fact, pruning them like this only means a larger, longer harvest! Try to cut them back once a week, even if you’re not using your herbs in recipes. (Time to share with neighbors and friends!) And be sure to trim longer stems that are about to set flower buds.
Move them outside
Once the spring and summer seasons start rolling around and it’s getting warmer again, you can move your potted herbs outside for more sunshine.
Some herbs can last for years with this kind of rotation, while you may need to replace others that start to get woody and thick. But here’s the thing: You’ll have fresh herbs at your fingertips all year long… And isn’t that just delicious?
Your Reston Farm Garden Market has the herbs, pots, soil, and encouragement you need to help you get your indoor herb garden thriving. As always, we’re standing by for all your gardening needs!