Does the long cold days of winter have you down and praying for Spring to come soon? Here is an easy project you can do during the winter months and also year-round. Growing herbs indoors during the winter can help you survive the yearning to go outside and do some gardening. There are various methods and herbs that are grown successfully indoors, the limit is just your imagination.
Prior to the planting process think about what herbs you use on a regular basis. This will help you decide which herbs to select to grow indoors. There are many herbs that grow very successfully indoors like; chives, basil, dill, thyme, oregano and many more. Some herbs like horehound and fennel do not do well indoors.
You must also think about the requirements for growing herbs. Herbs require good drainage. Grow your herbs in pots that have good drainage and in a potting mix that drains well. Most herbs require at least six hours of direct sun on a daily basis. If they do not get the required amount of sunlight they become thin, have smaller leaves and diminished aroma. Some herbs like Lemon Balm will grow in low light conditions, but for the most part herbs require a good source of sunlight.
Of course the best source of light for your herbs is the sun, so choose a south-facing window. Make sure if you grow your herbs on a windowsill you rotate them periodically for uniform growth. If you do not have a room available that faces the sun you can use grow lights which you can purchase at your local nursery, big box store or online. If you find that the expense of the grow lights are too high for your budget, you can use two 40 watt, cool white fluorescent bulbs. Make sure the bulbs are 6-12 inches from the herbs and let them on for 14-16 hours.
Just like your plants outdoors, herbs have water requirements also. Though they may vary from plant to plant, an easy way to tell if your herbs need water is to stick your finger in the soil about an inch. If it comes out dry, water the plant. After a period of time you will be able to tell which plant requires more water than the others.
Once again, like your plants you grow outdoors, herbs require nutrients. A good quality potting soil is a start, but use a low dosage water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks to ensure optimum growth.
As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of methods to grow herbs indoors. You use regular clay, plastic, or glazed pots and sit them on the windowsill. Or better yet, have them growing under artificial light so you don’t worry about them getting leggy or not getting enough sunlight on a cloudy day.
A lot of companies have now come out with Herb Garden Kits. Some of these kits come with a water reservoir bucket and holes in the reservoir to put seed pods. A lot of these kits even come with their own light source. You can have a very elaborate kit or a basic one depending own your budget and how many herbs you would like to grow. Some of the kits to look for a Stealth Hydro, Aero-Garden, Buzzy Herb Kit, EarthBox and Culinary Herb Garden Growing Kit. The difference between the kits are of course price, the components within the kits, how easy they are to use and their success rate. Additionally, with most of these kits you can also get vegetable seed pods so you can grow vegetables indoors also.
So don’t let the doldrums of winter get you down. Start growing your herbs or vegetables indoors and enjoy fresh produce until Spring comes and you can start gardening outdoors.
Articles and photos contributed by Rich Young, Colorado Certified Gardener.