According to writer William Cowper, “Variety's the very spice of life that gives it all its flavor.” But many gardeners would vote for herbs instead. Culinary herbs add zest and complexity to many dishes. Nothing is more convenient than a container garden right in your kitchen that provides favorite herbs for your cooking and eating pleasure.
Indoor Herbs: No Rules
With the thousands of different herbs in the world and the millions of gardeners, you can anticipate great variation in herb gardens. For starters, some gardeners in cold-winter climates grow herbs indoors only in winter while others maintain a year-round windowsill garden within easy reach of the cook.
This means you don't have to follow any hard and fast rules when beginning an indoor herb garden other than meeting the growing requirements of the plants. It is perfectly OK to select only a few of your favorite herbs to start the indoor garden. It's also just fine to grow two or more selections in the same container. Just ensure they have the same water and sunlight requirements.
Keeping Herbs Alive Indoors
A sunny space is the most important requisite for an indoor herb garden. Check which of your windows face south, and look for a garden space there first. Herbs are not picky plants, but most need at least four hours of sun exposure each day and six to eight hours of it each day to thrive. Rotate the herbs' pots to give each leaf its share of light. If your herbs start to look leggy, with more stem than leaves, then finding a sunnier location for them probably is necessary.
Potted herbs are comfortable at about the same range of temperatures you are: about 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't let the air get any warmer for them. Place the pots a distance from the window glass in cold periods because the region nearest the glass can be considerably chillier than the area a few inches away.
Soil and Pots
Pots for indoor herbs should be made of clay and at least 6 inches in diameter and about 8 inches deep. Never consider using an herb pot without bottom drainage holes because proper drainage is essential to herbs. They need well-drained, high-quality potting soil. Don't use garden soil because it compacts when irrigated. A mixture that contains equal portions of commercial potting mix, sand, perlite and peat moss is an effective indoor herb medium, according to the University of Missouri Extension's Life Times newsletter dated winter 2008.
When you are ready to begin work on your indoor herb garden, either move outside or spread newspapers on the kitchen table to facilitate cleanup. Potting can be a messy business.
Things You'll Need
Clay containers with bottom drainage holes
- Herb transplants
Put 1 inch of gravel in the bottom of each clay container. Add well-draining potting mix up to each pot's halfway point.
Tip the herbs out of the containers in which you bought them. If a plant appears stuck, squeeze its container to loosen the soil.
Place the herb transplants in the pots so that each plant's crown -- where roots and stems join -- is 3 inches below the rim of the plant's pot. Add potting mix to fill around the pots' edges. Place each pot on a drip tray. Water the containers' potting mix well. Empty each drip tray as needed to prevent the pots from sitting in water.
Irrigate the herbs' soil on a regular basis according to each particular herb's needs. Some herbs require a generous watering twice each week. Others prefer to dry out well between drinks.