I love the outdoors and love my garden, but what I really love is growing an indoor herb garden on my window sill every winter. Nothing is sweeter then the smell of fresh basil in the dead of winter. My new friend Jonathan is sharing with us his tips for the perfect winter herb garden!
There are a variety of herbs that can be grown indoors successfully, even in the cold and dreary winter months. Growing herbs indoors usually requires a bit of effort but with the right advice, you can reap the rewards of a fantastic indoor garden that you can be proud of. A fewof the easier herbs to start off with will include thyme, basil, mint and rosemary. These types of herbs can be grown throughout the year.
The First Step
In order to begin growing your winter herbs, you will need to gather all your materials. These will include containers that have holes placed in the bottom, planters, compost and organic seeds. If you have decided to grow an assortment of herbs, it is advisable to use labels. Some people find that popsicle sticks are an inexpensive option to label all the different herbs.
Your next step will involve filling each of your pots with compost, making sure that you leave about a centimeter of space from the top. For added nutrition, you can even add in thin layer of egg shells that have been crushed over your layer of compost. The egg shell layer helps to add and retain moisture to the soil to ensure your herbs receive the right nutrients in order to grow. You should make sure that the soil is always moist, but avoid over watering.
Your winter herbs will require fertilization. If you want your herbs to grow quickly, regular use of a fertilizer can help. Buy indoor plant-spikes from your local gardening store. These spikes are inserted directly into the compost or soil and release the fertilizer automatically. There are organic and inorganic fertilizers to choose from and be sure to select the correct dosage according to your herbs.
Pruning is optional but advisable when your herbs become overgrown. You can prune your winter leaves by cutting away any extra leaves. The general rule for pruning is to cut off any individual leaves but keep the leaves that appear in pairs.
Your indoor herb garden will need the right amount of light for the herbs to grow successfully. If you happen to reside in a place that receives very little or no sunlight throughout the winter, you can always make use of artificial light. Many plants grow well under fluorescent lights, however, many experienced indoor gardeners advise that it is best to use a combination of incandescent and fluorescent lighting. In addition, your herbs will require a few more hours under artificial light when compared to normal sunlight.
Growing Herbs Successfully
If you have decided to grow your winter herbs outside, you should plant them just outside your back door to ensure quick access in colder weather. Specific plants such as marjoram, sage, rosemary and French tarragon will survive the winter time. These types of perennials grow best when they are cut back after they have flowered in summer. This assists in keeping your herb bushes compact, which produces new and fresh leaves that are excellent for picking. Other herbs, such as bay, will not survive outdoors in the winter time and require a conservatory or frost-free greenhouse in order to grow.
Mediterranean herbs like thyme, rosemary and marjoram prefer to be placed in full sunlight and require ground that is well-drained. These herbs can still grow relatively well in poor soil conditions. Marjoram is an herb loved by the butterflies and bees and grows best in direct sunlight. When planning your own herb garden, be sure to choose herbs that you like best to cook with.
With some planning and a little effort and care, you can enjoy the deliciousness of fresh herbs all year round.
Jonathan Leger is a member of the Garden Writer’s Association and a gardening enthusiast. Some of his other pieces can be found at http://www.uniqueplants.net/ where he shares his passion for the unique and beautiful plants of the world.
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