Gardening is big around here, and fresh herbs are one of our favorite culinary delights! The problem is, we can't always keep them growing outside during cold weather seasons, so an indoor herb garden is ideal for those of us with limited outdoor garden time. Indoor gardening is also perfect for anyone without a yard.
With just a few steps and supplies, you've got your very own organic herbs right at your fingertips. Check out our 6 best tips to successful indoor herb gardening so you too can enjoy fresh herbs year round.
How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden
1. Choose a space with plenty of light
Find a space that has 6+ hours of sunlight a day. If you don’t have a spot with that much light, you can supplement with artificial light or move the plants to an alternate spot mid-day. Warm, sunny window sills are best, but grow lights work very well too.
2. Pick well draining containers made of safe materials
One big mistake gardeners make is planting in a container that's too small or doesn’t drain well. For herbs, you should use pots that are at least 4 inches deep and 4 inches wide. This gives the plants the space they need to grow and thrive.
Repurposing food containers or purchasing items like unglazed terra cotta pots, smart pots, bioplastic flower pots and conventional plastic pots are all great choices for your indoor herb garden. Just be sure to stick with plastic recycling codes 2, 4 and 5 to avoid any toxic plastic that could contaminate your plants.
3. Use nutrient-rich soil
Be sure your plants have the nutrients they need to grow by buying a nutrient-rich soil (don’t just dig up soil from the yard because it's often depleted already) so plants have something to feed on as they take off and get growing. You can find this kind of soil at most home improvement and gardening shops. We always choose organic soil harvested from pesticide-free ground.
4. Invest in quality plant food
Your herbs will need to be fed about every 6 weeks. Invest in a quality organic or OMRI-listed houseplant food to give them a good boost. Follow package directions accordingly so you don’t over or under water. Liquid fertilizer tends to be easier to use and achieves some amazing results, but pellet versions, compost, earthworm castings and plain ol' coffee grounds are equally fantastic.
5. Start from seeds or seedlings
The cheapest way to grow herbs is to start them from seed. It's easy too, and you're off to a strong start with just pennies per plant and a little more time. Or for $1-$4 each you can buy seedlings and enjoy your harvest much sooner, but try to steer clear of seedling trays made of polystyrene. Organic seeds and seedlings are fairly common these days, and can be ordered online or found at various neighborhood stores around the nation.
6. Pay attention to soil dryness
Look at the soil and touch it to decide when and how much your plant needs to be watered. The soil should be moist but never muddy. It should crumble in your hands softly but never be sandy or completely dried out. Use these cues to determine when your herbs need more water.
Maintaining and Harvesting Your Indoor Herb Garden
Keep scissors nearby so you can snip your herbs when they're ready for harvesting. In most cases, the plants will be on average 3-4 inches tall with bright and blooming foliage. Always pinch off dead or decaying leaves to help the rest of the plant thrive. If your window sill herb garden really takes off, you can always dry and freeze your herbs for use later, or make them into delicious pestos, sauces, herbed butters, and infused oils and extracts.
Do you have an indoor herb garden? What are your best tips and tricks?