Looking out your kitchen window you may not see the vibrant colors of your summer’s vegetable and herb garden. As the growing season is still a while away, you can replicate a bit of that warm summer growth by growing a small herb garden indoors. Not all herbs do well inside and not all herbs will grow well in the winter, but by selecting the right plants to grow, and providing the right conditions, you can grow a garden as lush as your summer garden on a smaller scale.
A few good herbs to try growing inside during the winter chives, basil, sage, parsley, thyme, oregano, mints and rosemary. You can grow these from seed, though pay attention to each plant’s individual preferences. Parsley tolerates partial shade, though rosemary prefers full sun. Some plants will enjoy a heating pad during germination, and some will do fine without. If there isn’t a guide on the back of your seed packet, simply Google your variety name along with “how to grow.”
As explained by the University of Illinois Extension, “to ensure the plants do not get leggy and spindly, high levels of light are necessary. Most herbs will need at least six hours of direct sunlight. Plants can also be grown under fluorescent lighting for 12 to 14 hours a day, located 6 to 12inches above the plant. Plants grown in natural light should be rotated every few days to allow for even plant growth.”
Continuing, “temperatures and humidity around the plants should be monitored to allow for adequate growth. Optimal growing temperatures should remain between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Like any plant grown inside a house, avoid growing plants hear heat vents which may dry out the plant. One way to increase the humidity around the plants is to place the pots on a shallow tray of pebbles and water. A small fan in the room can provide adequate air circulation to avoid the spread of disease.”
Furthermore, “just like herbs grown in the garden, trim the plants often to keep plants compact and to prevent flowering, which will decrease the flavor of the herb. When cutting the plants to add to a dish or salad, cut a few inches down the stem rather than picking off individual leaves. Parsley and cilantro stalks should be cut at the base of the plant. The general guideline when using fresh herbs instead of dried herbs is to use three times the amount specified.”
Whispering Hills Garden and Landscape Center is a full service landscape center and nursery located in Cary, Illinois. Stop in today to schedule a Spring 2022 cleanup. (Updated: 1/5/22)