If you’re anything like me, there’s hardly a dish that can’t be improved upon by some kind of fresh herb. Tacos, pasta, curries..it seems like all of the most delicious food is lackluster without a fresh herb to bolden its flavor profile. Unfortunately, regularly buying fresh herbs can be pricey and what you do buy can go bad before you have a chance to use it. For many of us, windowsill herb gardens are a great solution.
However, for many of us not living in consistently temperate climates, short growing seasons mean outdoor herb gardens are only a possibility for a few months out of each year. Luckily, there is a way to enjoy fresh herbs all year long. Windowsill herb gardens are easy ways to not only add flavor to your food, but also color to your home no matter the season.
Decide What To Grow in Your Indoor Herb Garden
The first step in any kind of herb garden including your new indoor variety is determining what you’d like to grow. It can be tempting to push it and try to grow everything you can think of. But overwhelming yourself is almost always a recipe for disaster. Instead, focus on two to three plants at first. Then, add more once you’ve gotten a good handle on how to attend and care for them.
Great indoor starter plants include kitchen favorites such as basil, cilantro, thyme, mint, or parsley. Each of these herbs may have slightly different care regimes, but their needs are similar. Caring for a few herbs from this list shouldn’t feel like too much.
Pick The Right Location
One of the most important aspects to growing herbs inside is picking the right location. Just like their outdoor counterparts, indoor herbs demand abundant sunlight to thrive. Sticking your herb garden next to any old windowsill is unlikely to cut it, and will result in sad, rather flavorless plants. Instead, opt for the sunniest locations in your home. South facing windows often grab the most daylight, so this can be a good place to start.
If your home is lacking sufficient light, all is not lost! Grow lamps are affordable ways to ensure that your herbs can thrive, even if your space suffers from a chronic lack of sunlight. Pick them up at your local garden center, or online
Choose The Right Containers
Now that you’ve picked the right location and figured out your lighting, it’s time to check and make sure your plants are in appropriate containers. For the first few months, it may be fine to keep your herb garden in the pots in which they came or originally sprouted. However, as they grow and mature and their roots take off, it’s important to re-pot them as necessary. A good size for most growing plants has a depth of between 8 and 12 inches, and is at least 6 inches in diameter.
Of course, it is crucial that any container you use for planting is well equipped with proper drainage. Soil that can not drain completely can lead to root rot, overwatering, and the demise of your windowsill garden.
Try a Starter Plant
Growing plants from seed can be fun and satisfying. However, it can also be finicky and frustrating when the results aren’t what you’d hoped. The easiest way to begin your indoor garden is to purchase starter plants. Beginning this way allows you to choose healthy plants that have the best chance of doing well as they grow. It also cuts out the time you would otherwise spend waiting for your seeds to (hopefully) germinate.
As mentioned, starter plants should be transplanted to larger, well draining containers as they grow to ensure they have enough room and proper moisture levels in order to thrive.
Water Your Herb Garden Accordingly
To water or not to water, that is the question. Even the most experienced houseplant parents can report at least one death at the hands of over or under watering. Herb gardens will not like excess water, and will revolt if you give them too much. As a good rule of thumb, allow the soil to dry up to an inch or two below the surface. When watering, make sure you continue until the water appears in the collection saucer at the base, and then pour this water off to ensure that it is not reabsorbed.
This is where good quality soil and ample drainage come into play. Make sure that your soil is not packed too densely, and avoid using garden soil in indoor planters.
Encourage Growth by Trimming
Like your outdoor herbs, your indoor windowsill herb garden needs frequent trims in order to thrive. To encourage branching and new growth, make sure you are trimming your herbs every so often. Even if you are not using your trimmings in cooking, it is crucial that you do so, or your plants may become leggy or prematurely go to seed, rendering their flavor poor and your plant most useless in the kitchen.