If you live in a flat or unit, with little space for an outdoor herb garden, an indoor herb garden may be just the answer. Or perhaps you would like to grow some of your favourite culinary herbs closer to the kitchen and out of the way of pests and inclement weather.
Can herbs thrive indoors? Certainly. Growing your culinary herbs in an indoor herb garden, in or near the kitchen, is easier than you may think, and provides some advantages over an outdoor herb garden. The same simple rules apply to an indoor herb garden as to growing herbs outdoors.
First it must be remembered that herbs are not indoor plants, and may not give their full fragrance without fresh air and some sunshine during the day. Herbs need sunlight to produce the essential oils that give them their flavour and fragrance.
So the first thing to consider is placement of your indoor herb garden. The sunniest spot, on a windowsill or in a sun room, facing south (in the northern hemisphere) or facing north (in the southern hemisphere) would be ideal, or a porch or balcony. But if your herb plants can’t get at least 5 hours sunlight you can supplement their light needs with a grow light.
To create your indoor herb garden you are going to need a trough or long narrow container, or individual pots that can be mounted on your windowsill. These pots need to be at least 6 inches (150 mm) deep to give the herbs room to stretch their roots, with the bottom of the pot filled with peat or vermiculite to provide good drainage.
Fill with a rich, clean light soil. Never let herbs in pots dry out, but make sure they don’t sit with wet feet either. They also should be fed occasionally with one of the brands of ‘plant pills’ which are available.
Terra cotta ‘strawberry jars’ with several apertures around the sides and top, making spaces for 5 different herbs, are an excellent idea, if there is room in your indoor herb garden area.
What herbs are best to choose? There are plenty of herbs that do well indoors. Most of your favourite culinary herbs, including parsley, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, sweet marjoram, chives, chervil and mint will do well. Basil too will happily live indoors, providing it gets plenty of light. Buy your herbs as healthy young seedlings from a nursery.
Indoor herb garden kits are also available on the Web, and include not only free information, but also come with an assortment of the finest categories of herbs.