Most people who know their way around the kitchen have a go-to herb that they use to liven up their dishes. There’s nothing more homemade than a dish that includes herbs grown right at home. Any why not, when growing herbs indoors is relatively easy? You can enjoy fresh herbs year-round — even in the dead of a New England winter. Here are the basic steps for growing an indoor herb garden:
Growing Herbs Indoors in 5 Steps
Get your supplies. You need plants (or seeds), pots and nutrient-rich soil. What kind of herbs you want to grow is up to you. We recommend parsley as a good starter, because it’s not as picky as some other herbs with regard to water and sunlight.
You can get a spade or something similar if you don’t like to get your hands dirty — but gardening might not be the right hobby for you if you don’t like dirt. A typical indoor herb garden is generally small enough that tools aren’t really necessary.
Make sure you have a pot that drains. If your pot doesn’t have any holes on the bottom, the roots of your plants will rot in wet soil. Don’t let that happen. On that note, make sure you have something in place to catch the water running out of the soil so you don’t make a mess.
Find the right spot for your indoor herb garden. As a general rule, there’s no such thing as too much sun for growing herbs, so giving your plants a home near a window is a must. You know your apartment best, but here’s a little science to help you out: given the tilt of the Earth’s axis, south-facing windows will receive the most sunlight in the U.S.
If you don’t have a window that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day, you can supplement sunlight with a grow lamp. Some of the more popular herbs, like basil and thyme, require a lot of sunlight, so a lamp will be necessary in the winter months.
One other important thing: grow your herbs somewhere the cat can’t get to! Save yourself from coming home to find your herbs shredded and your floor covered in soil. Cats like to uproot plants, even if only to annoy their people.
Water your herbs often — but not too much. Don’t water your herbs if the soil is noticeably wet. Stick half of your finger in the soil to check for moisture. If it’s dry, water it until it starts to drain. Most herbs like to be watered heavily, but not every day.
Cut and rinse. You can just snip your plants with a pair of scissors when you’re ready to use them. Give them a quick rinse and they are ready to go, just as if you bought fresh herbs in the produce aisle at the store.
Dry them, if you want. If you want dried herbs you can grind up and make into seasoning, you have a few options. You can hang them upside down in a place that gets sunlight, or put them outside in the sun until they’re brittle. These options take a few days, but are tried and true.
You can also dry herbs in the oven, but this option is a bit risky; you’ll risk burning them. Herbs only need a temperature of about 100 degrees to dry, and most ovens can’t be set that low. Using a microwave also runs the risk of burning the herbs. If you do try the microwave, cut off all stems and put the leaves between two layers of paper towels. Microwave the leaves in short intervals, checking them often.
An herb garden is a great addition to any apartment, but there’s so much more that makes for a comfy place to come home to each night. At Parc Westborough in Westborough, MA, our residents enjoy a long list of amenities and a high standard of living. See what we have to offer, then get in touch with us to schedule a tour.