Nothing revs up a recipe more than some fresh herbs. If you're lucky enough, you have a lush herb garden in your yard, just steps from your door, to harvest and use in your everyday cooking.
But what happens when cold weather or winter sets in and you no longer have that outdoor herb smorgasbord to use? An indoor herb garden is the answer.
What can be grown?
Not all herbs transition well to being grown in a pot or indoors. Those that can grow successfully indoors include basil, bay leaves, chervil, chives, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme. These aren't the only herbs that can be grown indoors, but they are the ones that tolerate it the best and grow most successfully.
Seeds or plants?
Depending on the herb, a cutting — if you can get one — will work better than planting seeds for your indoor garden. Cut a four-inch section from the tip of the plant back and strip off the lower leaves.
Put the stem in perlite or vermiculite, which is a soil-less mix, and make sure it is moist. The cuttings should be in a humid atmosphere, so covering the pot with glass or clear plastic is necessary. With the proper care, the cuttings should root and grow in the pot.
Another option would be to dig up herb plants and pot them for indoor growing.
When to start?
If you are bringing in outdoor herbs (whether already potted or those you're planning to pot), they can continue to grow indoors. However, bring them in before the first frost hits in autumn, otherwise the plants will die. Be sure to transition the potted herbs in the garage or on the porch for a couple of weeks before you bring them in the house. Growing herbs from seed means a good four to six weeks before they sprout, so plan accordingly.
While you can't duplicate the outdoors for your indoor herb garden, there are steps you can take to acclimate the plants to the indoors. Put them in a place where they'll get a lot of sun, preferably south-facing windows. Water your plants regularly, but don't drown them.
They will thrive in temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees F, and if you don't turn your house temperature down at night, you should. That will simulate outdoor conditions at night for the plants.
Even though you are growing herbs indoors, there is still the possibility that pests and disease can harm your plants. Do not plant herb seeds in soil from your garden, as you may be bringing in pests or disease in that soil. Use commercial potting soil, even if you are potting plants from your garden. If that is the case, shake as much of the outdoor soil off the plant as you can.
With a little tender loving care, you can enjoy fresh herbs all year by growing them inside.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado