GROW YOUR WINTER HERB GARDEN INDOORS

Its officially winter out there and the coming of winter is a not always the most exciting or activity packed time in most gardens. During this season of short, dark days, indoor herb gardens offer welcome greenery and fragrance.  You can easily bring herbs indoors for the nippy months even if you have little experience with plants or very little space to work with.

Some herbs naturally lend themselves better to indoor growing conditions. Parsley, basil, sage and thyme are known to hold up stronger inside. Extra perk is they are all perfect herb solutions for winter stews, casseroles and roasts. Isn’t it great when those things work out?

To bring your herb garden indoors for winter you need to find a table or shelf with sufficient fluorescent light (you must remember that to a plant, light is food) this will guarantee that your herb plants obtain all the necessary light and will also prevent them from die-back that occurs from being against a cold window. In warmer months, you can move your herbs to a sunny window or a shady balcony that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day so that they thrive.

The easiest way to start your indoor winter herb garden is to buy established plants especially if you’re only a novice gardener. There are several types of containers you can use for the plants, but terracotta planters are very popular and can me the modest option if you’re only starting out. Make sure the pots and container you select have drainage holes in the bottom Whatever container you select it should be deep enough to promote proper root development. You can plant multiple herbs in one container or select individual pots for each herb plant. You should also make sure that your herbs are not to overcrowded as this, too can lead to fungal problems that may kill your plants.

When repotting It’s a good idea to go with a store-bought potting mix. Be sure the mix is lightweight and will drain well. Pour a 5cm layer of potting soil into the bottom of your container and place your plant gently in its location. Finish filling it with potting mix, pressing it firmly around the plants. Leave about an 3cm of space at the top to make room for watering.

Remember that too much love can kill your herbs by watering too often: Excess water is harmful to the roots and causes rotting. Fertilize your herbs once a month with an organic fertilizer. Once you start to see new growth, you can begin to use your herbs for cooking.

Here are a few herbs that are particularly well suited for indoor growth:

  • Parsley: Parsley needs at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day. If you can't provide enough natural sunlight, grow the plants under fluorescent lights.
  • Basil: Requires bright light and warm temperatures.
  • Sage: Appreciates a manicure (prune back spindly branches) and drier conditions.
  • Chives: Member of the onion family is best used fresh. Chives like bright light and cool temperatures.
  • Dill: Choose a dwarf variety. You'll need to make successive plantings to ensure a continuous crop since dill doesn’t grow back after harvesting.
  • Lemon balm: This is easy to grow from seed and its fresh fragrance can be enjoyed in salads and drinks.
  • Oregano: The soil must need to be loose and well-drained to prevent over-watering.  The plant requires partial to full sun light either in a well-lit window seal or under a florescent light for at least 6 - 8+ hours per day
  • Rosemary: Soil needs to be well drained, but don’t let it dry out completely.
  • Thyme: Many varieties of thyme are available. Very well-drained, or gravelly soil is especially important for woolly or creeping thymes. Keep the plants moist by misting until you see new growth.