How to Grow Herbs
Growing herbs is relatively easy with the right amount of sunlight, water, soil and love. You can grow them indoors or out, in pots or in the ground, in traditional soil or in a soiless mix. Regardless of how you decide to grow herbs, the goal is to create a steady supply of ready-to-pick accouterments for your dinner table that are not only tasty but also visually appealing. Let's look at a few of the different ways to grow herbs, and how to get the best results depending on your specific situation.
Tips for Growing Herbs Indoors
The most important consideration when setting up an indoor herb garden is location, location, location. This is because herbs need to catch as much of the natural sunlight entering your home as possible in order to survive and thrive. The best location is on a sun-drenched windowsill that receives at least four hours of direct, natural light every day. This type of light enters through south and southwesterly facing windows the most. Windows to the east and west can also be sufficient. However, the north side of the house typically doesn't catch enough light. Performing a simple test to see how much sunlight a particular spot receives throughout the day will help you to determine the best way to grow herbs indoors.
Besides the sun, water is another important factor to consider when growing herbs indoors. Proper drainage and overflow control is a must. Using saucers, pots or trays to catch any excess water will not only keep your herbs healthy and bountiful, but they could also save the finish on your furniture from damage or watermarks.
Clay pots may be a good choice for this depending on your specific location and environment. However, they can dry herb roots out quickly in hot, arid climates, and during winter months when heated air from the furnace flows through the house. In most cases, it's typically best to simply use rubber, plastic or metal saucers.
Another consideration for your indoor garden is the temperature. Fortunately, herbs are happiest at temperatures that most people find comfortable – between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it's important to remember that herbs close to windows may be subject to drastic changes in hot or cold depending on where you live and the time of year.
Tips for Growing Herbs Outdoors
Herbs are relatively easy to maintain and care for outdoors. As long as they receive plenty of sun and the right amount of water, you should be able to cultivate a steady supply of food-enhancing plants right in your backyard. There are a few things to consider, however, when determining the best way to grow herbs outdoors.
Soil mixture is an important part of any garden. When it comes to herbs, you may choose to use a topsoil-based mix or a soiless variety. Depending on your specific situation, one may be more appropriate than the other.
Soil Mix – This is a standard mixture that uses equal parts compost, sterilized topsoil and builder's sand. If the topsoil used lacks nutrients, adding an organic fertilizer will ensure that your herbs are as healthy and bountiful as possible.
Soiless Mix – This mixture uses four to six parts peat moss as the base with one part vermiculite and one part perlite. Oftentimes, you may want to add nutrients to this blend. Mixing in a half cup each of bone meal, oyster shell lime and cottonseed/canola meal to eight gallons of this soiless variety will help your herbs thrive.
Growing herbs from seed can sometimes be a challenge for a new gardener. Each variety of plant will require different techniques to ensure that they sprout and grow into productive adults. Here are a few things to consider when planting seeds:
Herbs such as mint, parsley and lavage like soil that is fairly moist.
Rosemary, thyme and sage prefer their soil to be relatively dry by comparison.
Seed depth is important. Some can lie on the surface of the soil while others require a specific depth. The seed packet will typically include this information.
A seedling heat mat may be the perfect solution if your herbs seem to be under developed.
When transplanting seedlings, water them at least an hour or two beforehand.
If transplanting to a prepared hole, ensure the plant's base is even with the ground, lightly tamp down the soil and water.
Consider using your herbs for their oil benefits. Lavenders, sandalwood, frankencense , and many others can be used for aromatherapy, massage oils, and much more if you're so inclined