Nothing beats the flavor of fresh culinary herbs. They have the potential to vamp up the most normal and boring of all dishes. While you can easily purchase them from groceries, adding home-grown herbs to the food makes a whole lot of difference. That is why, most people who reside in apartments still prefer growing their herbs to enjoy the flavor of just-picked herbs. Maintaining a culinary herb garden will not only satiate your culinary requirements, but will also create a cooling effect in your interiors.
Appropriate planning, sufficient knowledge about gardening basics, and a little bit of patience are all that you need. While almost all plants require direct sunlight for optimal growth, majority of the herbaceous cultivars perform well indoors and require less maintenance. For avid gardeners, environmental conditions that become unfavorable for maintaining an outdoor herb garden are no deterrent and they prefer growing herbs indoors. The following guide is a step-wise approach to growing and maintaining an indoor garden.
Choose the Location
The preferred area to start is a windowsill, or in areas near the door or window, where the plants can receive indirect sunlight. In case your kitchen window faces south and receives an adequate amount of sunlight, you can start a kitchen garden right there. That way, irrigating the herbs and harvesting the leaves (whenever you need), will become easy for you.
Gather some Containers
Using pots of the right size is mandatory for container gardening. The ideal pot size varies according to the herb that you want to grow. The logic behind this is that the plants should get adequate space for spreading. Say for instance, parsley and sage require a larger pot, while scallion can be planted in smaller pots. Also, to ensure good drainage, selecting pots with drainage holes is a must.
Prepare Potting Media
The potting soil plays a major role in maintaining a healthy garden. It serves as a medium for supplying water and nutrients to the plants. If you are using heavy garden soil, amend it with sand, vermiculite, and lime components for solving water drainage issues. And before you fill soil in the containers, lay, gravel, small rocks, and brick pieces at the bottom. Then, add soil to match about three-fourth of the pot's height.
Select the Best Herbs
Be careful while selection of herbs and start with the local varieties that adapt well in your area. Once you get the hang of it, you can include other exotic herb species later to your project. Some of the cultivars that remain all-time favorites for gardeners are coriander, chives, dill, basil, oregano, mint, sage, bay, chamomile, rosemary, lavender, and parsley. Of these, dill and coriander are annual plants, while bay and parsley are perennial herbs.
Decide the Propagation Mode
Purchasing healthy seeds and plants should be of prime importance. Or, if you already have a herb garden outdoors, make cuttings out of the plants and root them. You can also start gardening using seeds. But, this requires additional efforts for seeding, germinating seeds, and transplanting the seedlings to individual containers. So, decide which one is a better option for you, and proceed accordingly.
Plantation of Herbs
This step will depend on your choice of method of propagation. If you purchase young plants, you can plant them directly. Take a pot and make a planting hole such that the root ball size matches with the hole dimension. Place the young plant, and fill the pot with soil. Likewise, you can transplant seedlings and rooted cuttings in the original pots, as per your plan.
Providing sufficient water is of utmost importance for your plants to grow healthily. Over-watering is a common problem occurring in winter gardening that beginners should be careful about. Excess soil moisture reduces air circulation in the underground parts, resulting in leaf-yellowing and root-rotting. Ideally, watering once in every two weeks is ideal for moisturizing the soil and proper maintenance.
When the temperature of the outdoors rises or becomes warm, place your potted plants in direct sun for some time in the morning. This will boost their growth and promote production of new leaves. You may add organic matter to the plants to supply nutrients, but should absolutely refrain from using chemical fertilizers. A plus point with indoor gardening is easy control over pests and unwanted weeds.