Add freshly-picked flavor to your recipes by growing your very own herb plants! Herbs can be grown fairly easily on a windowsill, balcony, or in your garden. Not only is it convenient to have a supply of tasty greens at your fingertips, but you’ll also save money at the grocery store. I love having fresh mint on hand for mojitos, and adding basil to salads and pasta dishes is so delicious. There are few things quite as wonderful as the taste of fresh herbs. While visiting an herb seminar at Mulhall’s, I learned some helpful information on how to grow herbs at home. With the right care, it’s much easier than you’d think!
How to Grow Herbs
In order for your herbs to thrive, ample light is a must. If your herbs live outside, they will need at least a half day of sunlight. Natural light can be replaced or supplemented with fluorescent light – simply hang a two-tube fixture 6-8 inches above the plants and leave on for 14-16 hours a day.
Tip: If your plants are placed on a windowsill, be sure to turn them regularly to ensure all sides receive adequate light.
It’s important to make sure your herbs are receiving enough circulation as they do not respond well to stagnant, dry air. Insect infestation and fungal diseases are more likely to occur in stale environments. Make sure there is enough space around each pot; herbs should not be touching.
Tip: If growing herbs indoors, place a fan in the room to keep the air moving.
Herbs should be planted in rich soil with good drainage. The size of the pot should measure no less than 6 inches. Herbs with underground stems, such as mint and ginger, will thrive well in shallow pots. Taproot herbs, such as bay and parsley, will need a deep pot.
Tip: Herbs planted in the ground need a rough soil mix that stays well-drained.
Herbs should be watered as the soil begins to dry out. They should not be left standing in water as it will be more likely for fungal diseases and root rot to occur. This is where a well-drained soil mix comes into play. Let herbs like bay, oregano, sage, thyme, and marjoram dry out between watering. Mint, lemon-balm and ginger more moist condition in comparison to other herbs. Lavender and rosemary should be misted three times per week – rosemary should never completely dry out.
Tip: Always use water at room-temperature.
Potted herbs should be fertilized enough to remain productive, but not too much that they begin to lose flavor.
Tip: Applying seaweed or fish emulsion once a month at half strength will provide the necessary nutrients.
How to Dry Culinary Herbs
- Cut about five stems to 5-6″ lengths. Bundle together with string or twine.
- Hang upside down in an area that has good circulation and no direct sunlight.
- Once leaves are crumbly (approximately 10 days to 2 weeks) remove the dried foliage from the stems and store in a well-sealed container away from direct light.