5 Tips for an Easy Indoor Herb Garden
Kendra Thatcher, DTR
Admittedly, I do not have a green thumb. I have tried for years to produce an enviable garden but am often left with barren patches of soil, wilted sprouts, and a defeated spirit. This year I am cutting myself some slack and starting with a manageable windowsill herb garden which my husband and I can utilize and admire daily. Herbs offer a ton of flavor to almost any recipe without adding sodium and calories. They are packed with many nutritional benefits including antioxidants and high amounts of Vitamin A (beta-carotene) and various B-complexes.
If you are anything like me (or even if you are a pro just looking for a little extra inspiration), here are my top 5 tips to creating a bountiful, long-lasting , and delicious windowsill garden.
- Do not limit yourself to the kitchen. While the kitchen is the most convenient place to have your herbs on hand, you need not limit the amount or variety of herbs you grow. Instead, decide which windows in your home receive the most light (leaving out the bathroom as an option) and plan around them. I have thyme growing in my living room, English lavender in my dining room, and basil in the office.
- Try something new – now’s your chance. While parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme are all standards, take this time to experiment with something new. I’ve introduced Thai Basil and English Lavender to my repertoire. The Thai Basil has a distinguishable heat and adds pizazz to many Asian inspired dishes and then my English Lavender has a cooling affect which pairs well with almost everything from tea or lemonade to roast chicken.
- Feed. Organic potting soil from your local garden shop will do the trick. I have been experimenting with adding a pinch of finely ground organic egg shells (just be sure they are completely dried out!) to add a boost of calcium and nitrogen to the soil – thus far the results have been solid. After a month or so, keep an eye on the health of your plants. If they look wilted or stop growing and are retaining too much water in the soil, you may need to re-soil or add organic food (again, talk to your local garden shop).
- Water. Water enough to keep the soil moist and just right. I personally water in the evening because it works best with my schedule – however, before watering I always touch the dirt to see if it is dry, damp, or soaking. You do not want to under or over-water. I’ve added a thin layer (depending on the size of the container) of small pebbles to the bottom of my pots to allow for proper drainage.
- Prune… and enjoy! This is the best part: enjoy the fruits of your (albeit easy) labor! The whole point of pruning, or trimming, is to remove a portion of the plant, so more may grow. When I trim, I like to choose the most “bountiful” area and snip as close to the stem as possible so that new growth may flourish. For example, with basil, you want to choose the top-most, and largest, florets. I tend to prune conservatively in the beginning and am then more liberal once the plant is established.