Even when it is the dead of winter, you can still enjoy fresh herbs just like it was a sunny day in June. Nothing beats fresh herbs to improve and enhance your cooking - yum! With the right selection and conditions, it's possible to grow herbs right in your home. Transplant herbs from your garden, buy seedlings from your local nursery or start from scratch with seeds.
So, you could say that herbs are sun worshipers. They need sun - and lots of it. Most herbs require at least 6 hours of sun per day outdoors. Indoors, much less light gets in, especially in the winter. So be sure you can place your herbs in a sunny spot, preferably in a south-facing window. If the sun won't cooperate, you can also choose to supplement the sun with a grow lamp that can shine on your herbs for up to 12 hours a day. Find grow lamps at your local garden center or online.
Soil matters. Yep, you heard me- dirt is not always just dirt. Your herbs will need lots of nutrients, oxygen and moisture all the way down at the root level. Always use a quality potting mix, such as Nature's Care Organic Potting Mix, that will allow for proper airflow and drainage so your herbs can root deeply and thrive. Now that's smart gardening!
If growing from seed, look for newer varieties that are dense and compact, since they are more likely to grow better in containers. Plant most herb seeds no deeper than ¼ of an inch deep, or simply sprinkle them on top of the soil and cover loosely. Cover the container with a plastic dome or bag, and place in a warm spot out of direct sunlight so your seeds stay warn and cozy until they germinate. Once you see your seeds start to pop up through the soil, remove the plastic cover and move to a sunny location. Then sit back, watch your herbs grow, and get your taste buds ready to enjoy!
You can continue to grow herbs by transplanting them to grow indoors but take it slow. Herbs taken straight from an outdoor sunny spot to an indoor spot can go into a sort of light-deprivation shock, and nobody wants that. Help herbs adjust by gradually acclimating them to lower light levels. Move them from full sun to a spot that receives partial sun for two weeks, then to deeper shade for another one to two weeks before moving them indoors.
Yes, your plants need water to grow but there can be too much of a good thing. Avoid over-watering your herbs. After all, you don't want your plants to drown. Let the potting mix dry down between waterings. Stick your finger in the potting mix up to your knuckle. If it's dry, it's time to water. Water thoroughly, until you see pooling near the container holes. Apply the water to the base of the plant, and try to keep water off the leaves. To keep herbs growing longer, feed your herbs every 6-8 weeks with Nature's Care Vegetable Fruit and Flower Plant food.
We all need a trim once in a while. And this is no different for herbs. Frequent, light pruning of your herb plants not only means that you get to enjoy them in your cooking but also helps keep your plants compact and growing new leaves. Don't worry, you won't hurt them. Pruning will prevent your plants from growing too tall, and harvesting often helps extend the growing period of your herbs so you can get the most out of them. Keep an eye out for flowers, and pinch them off just below the bud as soon as you see them appear. Flowers can change the taste of your herbs so and then they wont spice up that meal the way you want.