One of home gardening’s sweetest pleasures is enjoying a bouquet of freshly-grown herbs whenever you like. Although the plants themselves may be small, the freshness, flavor, and satisfaction they bring to your home cooking is immense. As it turns out, you don’t need to say goodbye to them when winter comes to New Hampshire. With indoor pots, you can grow fresh cilantro, mint, oregano, basil, and more without much effort year-round—here’s how!
What Herbs Can You Grow Indoors?
Almost any herb you can grow in your garden will grow indoors, including basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, mint, cilantro, summer savory, sage, parsley, chives, and rosemary. Most herbs—except for woody perennials like rosemary—can be started from seeds in a small pot of potting soil. However, since many herbs are slow to germinate, it’s often easier to buy them as seedlings.
How Much Light Does an Indoor Herb Garden Need?
With herbs, more sunlight equals better growth and bigger flavor, so it’s best to place your garnish garden near the brightest window available. Ideally, they should receive at least six hours of sunlight per day, but shade-tolerant herbs like parsley, mint, and cilantro can get by with as little as four. If your herbs are leggy and leaning towards the light, it’s a sign they want to move to a sunnier spot.
How to Water an Indoor Herb Garden
Most herbs need water once the top inch of soil dries out, but this can vary: heat-loving Mediterranean species like rosemary, oregano, thyme, and sage like to dry out a bit more between watering, whereas parsley, basil, cilantro, and mint like to stay moist, but not soggy. Growing your herbs in appropriately-sized pots will also go a long way toward maintaining consistent watering, as you’ll see below.
How to Harvest an Indoor Herb Garden
If you want a continual harvest of tasty herbs, it’s best to snip off a bit at a time as needed. Take no more than one-third of the plant at once, and remember to let it grow back before taking more. Another trick of the trade is to harvest based on your plant’s shape—take away any leggy bits to encourage thicker growth, and thin out any areas that are too dense to let your herbs breathe.
An Indoor Herb Garden with Grow Lights
If your herbs are getting too leggy, or aren’t growing much, they may not be getting enough sun. If this is the case, you can supplement with grow lights. Grow lights simulate the sun by giving off a broader visible light spectrum and more powerful rays than standard lights, providing your herbs with all the energy they need to thrive. Remember to switch your grow lights on and off at regular intervals to imitate the day and night cycle.
Extra Tips for a Successful Herb Garden
- Choose the Right Size of Pot: when the pot used is too big for your herbs, the soil doesn’t dry out evenly, making watering a difficult guessing game. Likewise, if it’s too small, your herbs will quickly dry out without a constant water supply. Using the right-sized pot will simplify your indoor herb care immensely.
- Imitate the Wind: most herbs don’t have very strong stems at the best of times. Without exposure to outdoor wind, however, they become even weaker. Simulating the wind by running your hand through the leaves will help strengthen your herbs’ stems and improve growth.
- Don’t Let Them Get Too Dense: like all plants, herbs need a bit of airflow between their leaves to keep them healthy and free of pests. Dense foliage prevents this and encourages a build-up of moisture, which can lead to mold, mildew, and other nuisances.
Recipe Ideas for Your Indoor Herb Garden
The beauty of an indoor herb garden is that it gives you a fresh supply of herbs throughout the day, even for simple meals like a tossed salad or sandwich. Of course, fresh herbs also immediately boost the flavor of any holiday dish, including roasted meats and vegetables, sauces, dressings, marinades, and more. Try finishing your steaks with a compound butter made of garlic, sea salt, and fresh rosemary, or make a simple syrup infused with fresh mint, thyme, or sage for killer holiday cocktails. If you’ve never tried it, homemade pesto makes an indoor herb garden instantly worth the effort. Try branching out beyond the classic basil, and explore mouth-watering alternatives like cilantro and parsley pesto.
You don’t need to be a green thumb to enjoy fresh herbs year-round. All it takes is a sunny window sill, regular watering, appropriate pots, and savvy harvesting, and you can have fresh herbs within arm’s reach all winter long, right in your kitchen. For more information on how to start your indoor herb garden, visit our garden center in Moultonborough, NH, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates and featured products!
Please note that our herbs have sold quickly this season, and we only have a few left—visit while supplies last!