Thursday, October 3, 2013

Herb Gardens Part 1


I've really considered starting an herb garden this fall so I've been doing some research to see what it requires.  Here is what I've found so far.

You must have a sunny window that received at least five hours of sunlight per day.  Most herbs come from the Mediterranean area so they need light to survive.  You have to keep your home between 60 and 70 degrees to create the best growing conditions.  For this I decided I could either use a baker's rack in front of my window or a window level table to grow my plants.  Plus, the window doesn't actually have to be in the kitchen.  I have a bedroom and living room window that get more sun than the one in my kitchen. 

Now I need to choose my plants.  Oregano, chives, mint, rosemary and thyme are the most commonly grown indoors.  I use a lot of herbs in my cooking but seldom use mint so the other 4 will work perfectly for me.  These can all be started from seeds but I'm impatient so the starter plants that I can get from the farmers market, local nursery and even some of the grocery stores are what I would opt for.  For your pots you must make sure they have drainage holes in the bottom so the herbs won't rot and keep a dish under each to catch any excess water.  Also make sure the container is deep enough to promote root development, usually 6 - 12 inches deep.  You can use a larger pot and plant multiple herbs in one container but I would suggest labeling them.  I would hate to add the wrong ingredient to a dish.  Also make sure you use the correct soil.  A store-bought potting mixture should work but if you're in doubt ask at your local gardening center.  The mix should be lightweight and drain well.

When preparing your pots put a 2 or 3 inch layer of potting soil into the bottom of the pot.  Gently place your plant(s) in the container.  Carefully finish filling in the potting mix, pressing it firmly around the plants.  Leave about an inch of space at the top to make room for watering.

Don't kill your herbs with kindness by watering too often and fertilize your herbs about once a month, making sure the fertilizer is labeled safe to use on edibles.  And once you start to see new growth, you can start snipping your herbs for cooking.

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