Indoor Herb Gardens
While home (and garden) ownership these days is unattainable for many, it doesn’t mean apartment dwellers can’t reap some gardening rewards. Becky Evans explains how to create an indoor herb garden that will satisfy your green thumb and complement your meals.
Let’s face it. A lot of people these days live in apartments, and the dream of owning a house with a garden is only attainable for the lucky few. However, with some clever interior design tricks, you can create a garden space within your kitchen and reap the benefits of fresh, healthy herbs grown in the comfort of your apartment.
Choose an Optimal Location
The obvious location for your indoor herb garden is on the inside window sill. So long as you can nourish your herbs with a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight daily, this is the best option. Getting this essential sunlight can be easier said than done, and apartments on lower floors might struggle to get enough light. If you are lucky enough to get direct sunlight, don’t forget to turn your herb pots every three days so they grow evenly.
If you can’t find enough natural light for your plants to flourish, you will need to consider a grow light, which can be purchased online or at a garden center. Place the lamp beside your herbs to give them between four to six hours of light a day.
(For more on indoor garden efficiency, check out Efficiency and the Indoor Garden.)
Three Essential Herbs to Plant
You want a variety of herbs that will add a special touch to meals that you regularly cook, and you want herbs that look impressive too.
Basil—No self-respecting herb garden can grow proud without basil. This sweet-tasting, popular herb has an anise, clove-esque aroma. Use it fresh or dried in a wide selection of different meals, from a classic Bolognese to a tasty accompaniment with a salmon dish. Basil comes jam-packed with vitamins A, K, and C, as well as magnesium, iron, and calcium.
Chive—Similar to onions and garlic, growing chives can ward off insect pests like mosquitos from your herb garden. What’s more, chives are full of bacteria-fighting antibiotics from their high sulfur content. Chives also are a natural anti-inflammatory; they’re nature’s ibuprofen.
Coriander—Regarded as an essential in any herb garden, coriander (also commonly known as cilantro) punches above its weight. It is high in vitamin C and can aid digestion, relieve inflammation, and balance blood sugar levels. Its potent flavor and smell make it a perfect seasoning for meats, salsas, and oriental dishes. Also, coriander seeds add warmth and spice to chicken, vegetables, and soups.
Choose and Prepare Pots
It is essential that you get pots that can drain well. Start by filling your pot with a potting mix, leaving a half inch of soil between the top of the pot and the potting mix. You can find a lot of funky vintage pots online or you could upcycle some old furniture. Once you have your pots, you can plant your herb seeds and water them thoroughly. Allow them to drain until they stop dripping, then place the pots on the windowsill with a tray underneath to catch any last drips of water.
(For more on choosing a container, check out Plants in Pots: Five Things to Think About When Choosing a Container.)
Kitchen Garden Maintenance
Herbs are a sensitive bunch and they will need tender loving care to survive. A snip here and a prune there is essential for a bigger harvest and sturdier herbs. Remember to cut any new growth a minimum of once per week and when new stems grow out.
Turn your pots at regular intervals, especially if they are directly in front of a sunny window. This will make sure that they grow evenly and prevents the side in the shade from undue neglect.
Of the most important things to remember, watering is a priority. Place small gravel in a tray and put your herb pots on the tray. Fill the tray up to the top with water once per week. Your herbs will absorb what they need from the bottom of the pots.
Keep an eye on your herb garden. In time, you will notice when your herbs are dehydrated or need more light as they change color and appearance. Once they are thriving, you can take pride in cutting a few herbs from your windowsill to complement your favorite meals.