If cooking is an art, then herbs are the paint, turning a plain bowl of noodles or a boring old chicken into a study in color and flavor. While dried herbs are just fine and, in fact, necessary at times, there is nothing like a sprig of fresh rosemary or strips of fresh-cut basil to add flavor to a variety of dishes.
Unfortunately, fresh herbs can be expensive, and growing them indoors can be challenging. But if you're dedicated enough, you can have a year-round supply of fresh herbs for all your culinary masterpieces. Here's how to get started growing herbs indoors.
- Choose Your Herbs. The first thing you want to consider in choosing your herbs is what will you use the most. The easiest plants to start with are chives, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and parsley. If you aren't known for having a green thumb, start simple, and start small. Choose your two most-used herbs, and buy starter plants from a reputable greenhouse. If you're old hat at gardening, you may want to consider starting from seeds, which is less expensive, and you'll have plenty more seeds on hand when you want to grow more. The best benefit of starting with seeds is being able to acquire heirloom varieties or herbs that aren't normally carried at a greenhouse.
- Choose Your Grow Space. Plants require a wide variety of growing conditions. Fortunately, most herbs require similar amounts of sunlight and water. Plenty of sun is key, as is watering whenever the soil is dry. You will also want to make sure the area isn't often disturbed by pets and is out of reach of small, curious hands.
- Choose the Right Container. Start with simple terra cotta pots and saucers, which offers optimal drainage. If a plant has too much water at the roots for too long, it can cause root rot, a disease that's nearly impossible to recover from. Even with full drainage, you should still dump any excess water left in the saucer an hour after watering.
- Choose a Schedule. It's not easy to add another item to your to-do list, especially if it's a new habit, but watering your herbs is crucial for success. If you have small plants, check the soil every other day, and water when the soil is dry. As time goes along, you may find that your herbs only need watering on Sundays and Wednesdays, or you may find that your home is so dry they need water almost daily. Set a reminder in your phone so that you don't forget to check and end up losing your culinary investment.
- Read Up on Herb Tricks. Basil will sprout more leaves for a longer season if you prune the flowers, and rosemary hates being over-trimmed. Every plant has a temperament, and you'll do well to Google more info about your herbs of choice to make sure you have the best tips for optimal growth and longevity.
No matter what herbs you choose to grow, you'll enjoy more green in the house, more relaxation from tending to your plants, and definitely more money in your pocket.