How to Grow Herbs Indoors

How to Grow Herbs Indoors

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  1. I think that, first off, I should clarify that by “herbs” I mean the kind you use in cooking (other than making brownies) and not the kind you smoke. To grow cooking herbs, you’ll need to place them by a window, so for anyone who gets the idea to use this method for the less legal kind of herbs, you better get some bail and lawyer money saved up.

    The first things to consider when growing indoor herbs are purely common sense: get yourself a container or two (or more, depending on how many plants you want to grow; you should try to keep it to one plant per pot), buy enough potting soil to fill them, get your hands on some fertilizer and purchase the herb plants of your desire. You can get all of these at your local nursery, or if you’d rather not spend a fortune on them, go to your nearby DIY (Do-It-Yourself) store, like Home Depot—if you don’t mind shouldering your way through crowded aisles and waiting in lines that make Disneyland seem like the place to be—or, to avoid headaches, OSH or ACE.

    But what kind of soil and fertilizer should I get?you are no doubt asking. That’s a good question.

    If you buy one of the premium potting soils, you can’t go wrong. They contain all the nutrients you need, as well as peat and usually vermiculite. If the soil you choose doesn’t have peat or vermiculite in it already, mix one part soil with one part of each before planting. As for fertilizer, you shouldn’t need it for some time, as the soil contains all the nutrients you will need. However, if you want your plants to grow faster and stronger, you can try fish emulsion or bat guano, but you have to be careful to use them sparingly as either will kill your plants quick if you overdo it. I know that puritan gardeners will shudder at this, but I always got the best results from good old Miracle Grow. There are different formulas for particular plants; just read the label and if you serve your herbs to friends, don’t tell them that you used Miracle Grow until after they’ve eaten and told you how good the herbs were.

    When it comes to herbs, light levels are one of the most important factors. Basil, oregano, chives, sage, rosemary and tarragon all require plenty of light. If you don’t have a south-facing window available for them, they probably won’t survive. Furthermore, be sure it’s a large, wide window and that the herbs get as much of the available sunlight as possible (this may require moving pots if you have to crowd your window). Chervil does best with less light, so either a west- or east-facing window will do fine. Parsley and thyme are less picky and go both ways… if you know what I mean, though both grow better in all day sunlight. Of all of these, basil may be the pickiest. Basil tends to rot in a big way if it doesn’t get at least eight hours of direct sunlight a day.

    Another common sense requirement for growing indoor (or outdoor) herbs is watering. Like most plants, they tend to die when neglected. Believe it or not, one thing that dumber people tend to forget is that most pots and other plant containers have holes in their bases that will leak water into your home if they’re not kept in some kind of bowl-like vessel. Yes, I had to soak the carpet of my last apartment with earthy-scented water before I figured that one out. How much you water the plants depends on the climate and humidity of where you live. Every other day is usually sufficient, but if you live in Arizona and refuse to use air conditioning, you may have to water them every day. You want to keep the soil damp, but never soaked. One nice thing about using pots for herbs as opposed to planting them in the ground are the little holes I mentioned earlier: even if you overwater your herbs, the excess will drain through the holes (of course, if you really overdo it, the runoff will overflow the vessel in which the pot sits and soak your carpet or, worse yet, ruin your hardwood floor; try not to get over exuberant while watering).

    Now, if you’re wondering, What kinds of herbs should I grow? I have four words for you: How should I know?

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