Easy Start to an Indoor Herb Garden

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Easy Start to an Indoor Herb Garden
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Starting an indoor herb garden is a great introduction to growing your own edibles. It may take some light research, a little elbow grease and some patience, but you'll be rewarded with tasty herbs, plants that add ambiance and style, and a hobby that will last a lifetime.

Choose Your Types
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Choose Your Types

A little research in the planning stages of your herb garden will go a long way. Form and function are important, but those things won’t matter much if you disregard the individual plants’ requirements. Some of the most popular herbs to grow indoors are basil, parsley, chives, oregano, rosemary and thyme.

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Start With Healthy Plants
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Start With Healthy Plants

You can start your plants from seeds, if you like, or get a jump-start on your enjoyment by purchasing healthy plants from a local nursery. Leaves should not be yellow or brown. Check the plant for insects or other pests. If possible, check the roots, which generally should be pale: yellowish or white. Take a look around the shop to ensure the plants are well cared for and in overall good condition.

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Select a Space
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Select a Space

Light is essential for your herb garden, but the amount of light each plant needs varies. Many herbs thrive in heat and humidity, but may shrivel in too much direct sunlight. Don’t be afraid to try out different placements for your pots until you find the best compromise. For example, basil needs more direct sunlight and warmer temperature than chervil, while cilantro does well in a fairly wide range of environments.

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Pick Your Pots
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Pick Your Pots

Considering your herbs’ growing needs should be foremost on your mind when you’re selecting containers, but don’t forget that this garden is part decor. The containers you choose should complement the style of the room. Home stores and nurseries have a variety of growing vessels, but you can also get creative with homemade containers, such as old cups or mugs (which will require a special drill for drainage holes) or empty tin cans.

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Set It Up
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Set It Up

The logistics of your setup will vary depending on your specific garden, but the elements you need to focus on during your research are soil, fertilization, drainage and watering. Generally speaking, you're going to want nutrient-rich soil and good drainage. The drainage part can be tricky if you're planting your herbs in homemade containers, so keep that in mind when you select pots. You may need to create drainage holes if you choose nontraditional containers.

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Label Your Garden
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Label Your Garden

Particularly important for the newbie gardener, labels will help you distinguish your Thai basil from your Genovese basil. Labels are another opportunity for you to add a crafty touch to your garden with detailed handmade signs. Get creative using Popsicle sticks, old decorated spoons or chalkboard tape to make your labels.

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Watch for Pests
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Watch for Pests

The key to keeping pests from devouring your herbs is to watch for early signs and get rid of any threats before they become a major problem. Look for signs of insects or fungal infection. Chewed leaves, irregular colors and of course the insects themselves could be be a sign of potential infestation. Stunted growth is another sign that your plants may be in trouble.

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Stay Vigilant
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Stay Vigilant

Be proactive and observant in general -- your plants will let you know how they're doing and what they need. Your plants should appear healthy and vibrant. Look for wilting, dying leaves or overly wet soil. Research your herbs for specific tips on individual care.

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Keep a Log
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Keep a Log

Use a journal or word processor to keep a log of changes you make in the care of your plants, watering and fertilizing schedules. Also note changes you see in the plants' appearance. You may be surprised by what you learn when you track your plants' over the course of a few months, and the log will also ensure you don't fertilize too much or too little.

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Prune Your Plants
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Prune Your Plants

Cutting up your plants may seem counterintuitive, but pruning gives space for new leaves to grow. The fun part about pruning herbs is that it’s part plant-maintenance, part meal prep and any leaves you don’t use immediately can be dried and saved for later.

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Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor
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Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

Start using your fresh herbs in place of the dried variety in your favorite recipes and you'll notice the difference in freshness and flavor. Basil is great for homemade pesto or Caprese salad. Thyme is wonderful in stews and on meats. Rosemary is great for roasts and in homemade focaccia. Once your herbs are on their way, clip whichever has leaves to spare and enjoy your culinary adventure.

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