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Best Herbs To Grow Indoors: The Definitive GuideBy admin
Friday, 5 October 2018
Whether you have a garden or not, the thought of growing herbs indoors just makes good sense. After all, there’s nothing easier than quickly snipping off a few chives to scatter over your omelette, if they happen to be on your window sill.
But getting your shoes on, braving the cold and dark and heading outside and up the driveway for a few choice herbs can be a pain and many of us simply won’t bother. So if you want to grow herbs, which are the easiest and best herbs to grow indoors? It’s time to find out…
How To Look After Your Indoor Herbs: 8 Top Tips
Before we start, we should probably go over some of the rules for keeping plants indoors that will ensure your herbs don’t shrivel up and die after the first few days:
● Neither overwater or underwater your plants. You can take your lead from the instructions for each type of herb, but the state of the soil is a good indicator. If it feels damp, it is probably ok, but if it feels dry you need to add a little bit of water. Little and often is always the best policy with plants.
● Keep your herbs away from sources of heat such as radiators and ovens. You probably want them in the kitchen, but choose a place that is away from the steam and heat you get in most kitchens.
● Give your herbs plenty of light, but not too much direct sunlight. A windowsill is almost always the best place for your herbs, but bear in mind that if that window happens to face south and gets all day sunshine during the Summer months, your plants could get baked (before you have the chance to add them to your lasagne).
● Look for pests on the leaves of your plants. Many herbs comes from supermarkets where an infestation may affect all of the herbs on display. You might not realise until it is too late that creepy crawlies are enjoying your herbs a little too much. Look for remedies that will not affect the plant, and if you see something crawling on it, pick it off immediately.
● Use the right soil, and feed for the herb you are growing. In most cases, a general purpose indoor plant soil is perfect, but some herbs may require more drainage, or a lighter type of soil. Also, choose a feed that is designed for herbs and only use as directed.
● Do repot your herbs as they grow. A root-bound herb will not flourish and can easily die. You can split the root ball and turn your one plant into several. Either keep them, or give away as gifts. Either that or move the plant into a bigger tub, and enjoy even more herbs on your plate.
● Cut your herbs carefully. Take note of the individual recommendations for your particular herb choices. In some cases, picking off the smaller leaves can encourage growth, while others should be hacked back at least once a year so that fresh growth can come away.
● Choose the right tubs and pots for your herbs. Make sure they work in terms of size and that they are clean and free from fungus. You need to make sure that there is a drip tray as this might be the best way to water them – from the bottom rather than the top.
If you buy a starter plant from the garden centre you could be using them in no time. It is ideal if they can have a few hours of direct sunlight each day and they like a damp soil. Simply trim off what you need, and it will continue to grow
Herb Option No.1: Coriander
This delicious herb is perfect for use in curries and Thai meals and works well scattered over a fresh salad of tomatoes and lettuce. It is also ridiculously easy to grow.
Use a free draining soil and water only occasionally, as it will wilt if over-watered. It is best left in a relatively shady spot where it is fairly cool, but where it still gets that all important light.
Herb Option No.2: Chives
Chopped into your egg salad sandwich, laid artfully across your salmon starter, or chopped up and scattered over your tomato soup, chives are versatile and delicious, and make a great alternative to spring onions, due to their lighter flavour.
These are also very easy to grow, and will provide a year round source of greenery – even indoors. It isn’t recommended that you try to grow chives from seed as they can take several years to become bushy enough for use.
Herb Option No.3: Mint
This is a fantastic herb – not only because of the delicious smell and flavour, but because of how many ways you can use it. A Pimms in the Summer would not be complete without a sprig of mint, and it is perfect chopped into homemade mint sauce for that Spring lamb roast.
Or just add a few leaves to hot water for a refreshing mint tea – perfect for digestion. You can also opt for peppermint and lemon mint if you prefer.
Mint will grow almost anywhere and it can be prolific. Outdoor gardeners are aware that you must plant mint inside a tub as it will spread quickly and take over the rest of your plants. Indoors, it is hampered by the pot you choose.
Place it on a dark windowsill, and it will thrive, put it in direct sun, and it will take off. It certainly needs plenty of water – but if that’s all you remember to do, you will still be blessed with the perfect indoor herb.
Cress is a cracking edible to cultivate, and can be easily grown on a window sill with only minimal maintenance to do so (it's also pretty delicious in a sandwich!)
Herb Option No.4: Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme
These three offer similar cooking properties, and dry very well too. They can be added to stews and casseroles, sprinkled over roast vegetables or meat, and used in a variety of rubs and pastes.
But the real reason we have lumped them together is because they grow in a very similar way and require similar care.
These herbs require plenty of sunlight and are a little more tricky to grow inside – but a south facing window will work well. Rosemary in particular requires very dry soil; consequently, it is essential not to over water it.
The other two will also be Ok with less than the usual watering. As the bushes can be spindly, you should pick off and cut back the stems from time to time to encourage new growth.
Herb Option No.5: Basil
This is a favourite amongst many cooks and is wonderful with tomatoes and mozzarella, sprinkled over your pizza, into your spag bol or ground up with pinenuts to make a delicious pesto.
You can buy huge potted basil plants at the supermarket, but have you ever wondered why they die off so quickly?
Basil is an outdoor, sun loving plant – it is from the Mediterranean after all. But if you are willing to accept that it may not grow well in the Winter, you can almost always get it to survive during the Summer by placing it on a sunny windowsill and giving it plenty of water. Pick off the smaller leaves to encourage new growth.
Herbs can be so fun to grow and they can provide a splash of colour in your kitchen. All it takes is a watchful eye, some careful watering and the right amount of sunlight to have herbs that you can use all year round. For more green-fingered advice, simply call 0800 1700 636 today!
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