“Herbs are the friend of the physician and the pride of cooks.”
For years we’ve known herbs add wonderful depth to our dishes and perform miracles for our health. So with the cold weather now on its way, follow these essential indoor herb growing tricks to ensure your kitchen brims with luscious and rich herbs this autumn.
Engulf them with sunlight
Whilst they can look superb perched up in the nooks of your kitchen, the key to herb growing is light. Herbs want lots of it. You want to provide your herbs with at least 6 hours of sunlight – so place them close to a window. Preferably an east facing window, as this will bathe them in a healthy dose of morning light daily, weather permitting!
Basil really loves sunlight. But for winter time or a more shaded location, you’ll find parsley will become your friend.
Regular, consistent water
When you grow herbs indoors you must remember Mother Nature can no longer give her helping hand – water sources such as rain and morning dew are no longer accessible to your plants. This means you must be extra vigilant to provide regular water. Make sure the soil of your herb garden is always damp.
Always water the soil and roots of your herbs, not the top of the plant where water can quickly evaporate in the warmth of your home. This way the soil will retain much more moisture.
Herbs will be pretty happy in most containers, providing they have plenty of soil per herb. Herbs suck your soil dry of water fast, so the more soil, the more moisture they will have access to. Especially if you are anything like me and forget to water now and again, an indoor windowsill herb garden planter will hold plenty of soil and retain lots of moisture. This means the herbs will be much more forgiving!
Food for food
Should you be feeding your herbs? Absolutely. As you’ll eventually be using these herbs for consumption we suggest you pick a chemical free fertiliser and apply lightly to your herbs every two weeks. You should avoid over fertilising – this can prevent the creation of the herb’s essential oils, reducing their flavour – and who wants to eat bland herbs?
Whatever level you are, there’s a home-grown herb out there for you
For beginners we suggest buying baby herb plants so you don’t have to worry about the germination process. Oregano is incredibly forgiving and grows well even in poor soil. Other herbs we recommend are parsley, mint, chives & thyme.
If you’ve grown herbs before, try growing annual herbs from seed. Leafier herbs will germinate fairly fast so look out for basil, coriander & dill.
If you consider yourself a herb connoisseur, we suggest bulking out your indoor garden with some more exotic and unusual plants. You can grow the quite adaptable Stevia from cuttings or a small plant – now used quite commonly as a natural alternative to refined sugar.
It’s ‘thyme’ to get growing!
Feeling inspired? Check out National Garden Gift Vouchers who are currently running a Herb Garden Competition to help promote growing year-round goodness. They are giving away 25 herb garden packs brimming with thyme, sage, mint, coriander and basil until the end of December 2015.
Find out more on their website: competition.thevouchergarden.co.uk.
Tony Stacey is Marketing Manager at the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), the organisation who administer the National Garden Gift Voucher Scheme. HTA are the leading trade association representing the UK garden industry. Tony is incredibly passionate about promoting gardening campaigns to children and non-gardeners to get the nation more green fingered and inspired to grow their own food.