The birds are chirping, the bees buzzing and the sun is rising earlier with every passing day. Spring is in the air, and what better way to ring in the new season than by growing your very own indoor herb garden?
Growing your own herbs is a valuable, rewarding skill that saves some bucks at the supermarket and fills your kitchen with the lovely aromas of herbs like basil, rosemary, and thyme.
Awaken your green thumb and unearth everything you need to know to start your own indoor herb garden with today’s beginner’s guide from Greens Steel.
Find the light
First thing’s first - scope out your space for a prime spot that gets ample sunlight. Your herbs will need at least 6 hours of direct light a day to get those puppies going strong, so a south-facing windowsill is the ideal candidate.
Don’t get much natural light in your home? No need to give up!
Grow lights can do wonders for an indoor garden as they mimic natural UV sunlight rays.
Even those with natural light can consider investing in a grow light, particularly if you want to ensure your garden keeps going all year round.
The optimal time period for grow lights to be flicked on is between 10 and 16 hours during the day, and many now come equipped with automatic on/off timers.
Pick your plants
There are two main aspects to keep in mind when deciding on which herbs to grow: (a) hardiness and ease of care; and (b) which herbs you enjoy using, of course.
Unless you’re content with simply growing herbs for decorative purposes (no judgment here!), you might as well pick the herbs you fancy cooking with regularly.
With these considerations, some popular choices are basil, bay laurel, chives, cilantro (a.k.a. coriander), lemongrass, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme. This is just a short list and by no means exhaustive list of your options. You can go wild with more rogue and ornamental herbs like red basil, australian mint, and Jacob’s ladder, just to name a few.
Think outside the box (or pot)
Whether starting your herbs from seeds, seedlings, or as mature plants, you’ll likely need to acquire some sort of planter to plant or transfer them to. While traditional planters like pots and boxes are reliable and effective, chances are you already have some household items lying around that can also double as planters. We love a good upcycling opportunity!
Mason jars, leftover cans and tea tins, even tea cups and coffee mugs are all viable vessels for your new plant babies. Whatever you end up using, just make sure to implement some sort of drainage system, with either holes or a layer of pebbles in the bottom to catch excess moisture so your potting soil doesn't get too saturated.
Pro tip: Ensure your furniture is protected from any moisture that might leak out from the bottom to prevent water damage. If you’re using pots with holes in the bottom, grab yourself some saucers to place under them - many will come with matching ones, but tea plates work as well.
Water when needed
One of the most common mistakes people make when growing herbs (or any plants, really) is overestimating how much water they need and sticking to this rigid schedule of unintentional overhydration without checking whether a watering is actually needed or not.
Just like with us humans, there are many varying factors that affect the plant’s level of dehydration on a daily basis, with level of humidity, temperature, the plant’s stage of growth, and the season just being some. Unlike us, however, overwatering is a slippery slope that can lead to problems like wilting and harmful bacteria growth down the line.
Next time you go to give your plants a good showering, fight the urge and check to see if your plant actually needs the water first. An incredibly easy but crucial step is simply sticking a finger in the soil to check how dry or moist it is. If it’s dry, go for it. If it’s still moist, give it a day or two and try again.
So you’ve followed all of the steps and given your plant baby’s some much needed TLC to become the bloomed and mature herbs they are today. Congratulations, you’re officially part of the green thumb club!
Now for the fun part - harvesting your homegrown herbs and putting them into action. Before you go snipping away, keep in mind that you don’t want to overpick your plants and put them into shock, possibly killing them for good.
Be sure not to harvest more than a fourth of the plant at once, ensuring at least 75% of the plant is intact at all times to keep your herbs healthy and happy.
Thank you for reading, enjoy being a plant parent!