By Linda Ly
The end of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of your favorite herbs in the garden. Fresh herbs add an impressive culinary finish to every meal. To keep herbs thriving even through the cooler days ahead, bring them indoors and grow them on a sunny windowsill – even if they’re not currently part of a con-tainer garden.
Growing herbs indoors doesn’t just flavor your cooking – it’s also good for your health. Virtually un-touched by food scientists, herbs remain close to wild plants. Ounce for ounce, herbs contain more phy-tonutrients than even well-known “supergreens” like spinach and kale.
If you’re ready to start gardening for good health, it’s quick and easy to build your own indoor herb gar-den.
The key to creating an instant indoor herb garden is potting up “plantlets” from divisions of healthy, vig-orous plants you currently have. Instead of leaving them dormant – or losing them altogether when win-ter weather rolls around –easily turn your flavorful greenery into a window herb garden.
What You’ll Need
Step 1: Choose strong plants
When exploring your garden for the best herbs to grow indoors, look for a healthy plant with deep, well-established roots – it will survive the stress of transplanting with little damage. The best time to divide an herb plant is right after it flowers in late summer to early fall. The day before you divide it, thoroughly water the plant with a gardening nozzle. This will prevent unnecessary strain on the roots when remov-ing the herb from the ground.
Step 2: Divide the herb
Gently dig up a small section or “clump” of the plant, taking care to keep as much of the roots intact as possible. Loosen the tangled roots with your fingers and gently, but firmly, lift the new plant from the soil. If needed, use a pair of pruners to make minimal clean cuts to separate the transplant from the original plant. Shake off as much garden soil as you can, so that potential pests don’t hitchhike inside on your new plant.
Step 3: Fill it up
Scoop potting soil into a pot until it’s about one-third full. Position the plant in the center and then fill the space around it with potting soil. When planting herbs, add just enough soil to cover the top of the roots.
Step 4: Give it a drink
Gently pat down the surface of the potting soil to level it out, then water thoroughly. For the first water-ing, fill the water collection dish at the bottom of the pot with water so the soil saturates from the bot-tom up.
Step 5: Give it love
At first, place your newly potted herb in a shady spot to allow it to recover and so the roots can adapt to their new home. Water daily, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. After a week or so, move the pot to a sunny windowsill (southern exposure is best) and water when the first inch of soil feels dry.
Keep a close eye on your herbs to make sure the soil doesn’t dry out. Most herbs will begin to die as soon as soil dries. Consistent moisture will keep your indoor herb garden healthy and happy. In addition to consistent moisture, be sure to harvest your plant frequently so it’ll continue to grow into healthy and tasty herbs. Snipping the ends of the plants on a regular basis will encourage new growth, providing delicious, healthy culinary additions for months to come.
There aren’t a lot of requirements for growing herbs indoors – just consistent watering and a window with bright sunlight. Choose herbs that complement the style of cooking you enjoy the most. For exam-ple, basil and oregano are classic Italian flavors, marjoram and tarragon add a French flair and cilantro and chives are great for Mexican cuisine. The options and combinations are endless, just go with what you love.
Herbs to grow indoors include:
The herbs already growing in your backyard may have both health benefits and healing properties. From thyme and mint (which both aid in digestion) to sweet marjoram and oregano (which are known to im-prove hair and skin), these plants go beyond just improving the taste of your meals.
With herbs being so easy to grow indoors in container gardens, it makes sense to grow your own win-dow herb garden and take advantage of the health benefits. Now that you’ve learned how to grow herbs indoors, you can garden for both joy and good health – even during the cooler months.
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