Some great news: the days of throwing down far too many dollars for a sprig of rosemary are behind you. No more paying through the nose for some limp, wilting and teenage-sulk-looking basil for your pasta, because you can grow those herbs at home. Some recent studies have suggested that transportation of some herbs, fruit and veg can reduce the nutritional value by as much as 40%, which is another incentive!
Space & ability shouldn't be a barrier!
Even if you don't have one square foot of yard to call your own. Even if you live on the 23rd floor of a high-rise apartment building, you can grow an herb garden that’s bursting with flavor. You don’t even need special lights; herbs fare just fine by a bright window.
When it comes to urban gardening, we like to stick to easy-to-grow basics like the ones on the list below. And don’t worry, these 6 herbs are best for indoors (which means they’re harder to kill, even for those with previous plant homicide tendencies). We've written about nutrition and eating these herbs before, so follow the links if that's also of interest...
- Mint: Spearmint and peppermint grow like weeds – you’ve been warned. But if you keep them in a separate container, away from all other life forms, they will stay under control.
- Chives: If you have no resemblance of a green thumb whatsoever, chives are your go-to herb. These are one of the easier herbs to grow indoors, as they do not require much light or maintenance.
- Basil: Basil likes to be difficult when it doesn’t get enough sun or warmth. Start your basil from seeds and place the plant in your brightest window.
- Oregano: The Greek variety of oregano is easiest to grow; however all oregano requires six to eight hours of sunlight per day, so a well-lit window is best.
- Parsley: Parsley is very easy to grow and doesn’t require much light or maintenance once you get started. Keep in mind, though, it’s not the fastest grower of the bunch so your clippings will not initially harvest a lot.
- Rosemary: Rosemary prefers to remain on the dry side so pay special attention not to over-water. Choose an upright variety like Blue Spire. These will remain more compact, making them a better choice when space is tight.
A few growing tips
A common mistake is planting all of your herbs in one container. This prevents growth and in the case of an intrusive herb, like mint, you’ll likely witness a herbal war (for those with a visual imagination, if you can send us a sketch of a ‘herbal war’ that would be great fun) in your container, so plant each herb in its own container.
Water the herbs at the base, where the stem meets the soil – don’t water the leaves. Water once and let the water drain completely through, then repeat. A good rule of thumb is to let the soil dry between watering’s. Remember, one of the biggest mistakes is over-watering; herbs don’t require as much water as a typical houseplant. As we’ve written about before, if you see leaves turning yellow, this is the first sign of over-watering.
Be sure to pick your herbs regularly and make sure to pick them correctly. Don’t pick stems from the base of the plant because this encourages lanky, tall plants to form. Instead, pick off the tips of each stem, just above a pair of leaves. Two new sprouts will grow from each stem, creating a fuller plant.
Growing plants, especially indoors, is a learning process. Yet it’s one of the best ways to save money and enjoy some fresh-from-the-earth taste at your dinner table. It's mostly trial and error so, be patient, research, and have fun with it!