Growing you own herbs isn’t as scary as you may think and this year, indoor herb gardens are more popular than ever. With freshly grown herbs typically selling at between £1.25 and £2 per 100g in popular supermarkets, producing your own herbs is an easy, cheap and convenient way to add delicious flavour to your dishes and a fresh aroma to your home.
There are several key areas to consider before you begin, that are essential to the success of your herb garden. Adequate light is highly important as without sunlight, plants can not photosynthesise and so become malnourished; if they don’t die at this stage, then flavour will be highly affected. It is best to place your herbs where they will gain daily, southern exposure to the sun and the plants should be rotated in their containers every two to three weeks. If strong, daily sunlight is not available in the area you are intending to grow your plants in, then grow lights or fluorescent lighting suspended four inches above your herbs will provide the plant with enough light to thrive and survive. Progrow sell an affordable range of grow lights that will not look unsightly in your kitchen or cost you the earth in electricity bills.
Temperature and available moisture are also important factors to consider. Your plants need a humid atmosphere to grow to their maximum potential and achieve the best flavour. To create ideal growing conditions for your herbs, place the herb pot on top of a tray filled with some small pebbles; pour some water on top of the pebbles and allow the water to evaporate and create a humid micro-climate. Alternatively, use a pot or planter such as a Garland propagated seed tray which will help to create ideal drainage conditions. You can also purchase a Garland propagated lid to use with the tray to create a humid environment for your seedlings to thrive in.
Over watering can prove fatal to herbs and is easily avoidable for herbs grown indoors. To prevent this from happening simply use a water mister to lightly spray your plant’s leaves, twice a week. It is a good idea to invest in a small moisture reader so that you can make sure your plants are receiving the right levels of moisture to obtain best results. However, if the leaves of your plant start to yellow, you should stop watering your plant so heavily or as often as this is the first sign of over watering. If this occurs, add some gravel to the bottom of the herb’s container, underneath the soil to act as a drainage system.
If you are moving herbs that you have been growing outdoors into your home, then be aware that you may be bringing in some common garden pests with you. These tiny critters are harmless to humans but fatal to the growth and health of your herbs; happily though, they can be easily controlled. Simply spray the leaves of your plant with a heavily diluted mix of soapy water which will not harm your plants but will deal with the bugs. Be sure to spray the underside of the leaves too, as this is where new eggs or hatchlings hide; it is also important to thoroughly rinse the plant before using any of the herbs in your cooking.
As seeds can take several months to grow to a state where you can begin to use them in your cooking, it might be an idea to purchase some fresh herbs whilst you wait for yours to grow to avoid impatience and allowing you to discover which herbs you like the flavour of and which of your favourite recipes you could add some to.
Once your herbs have grown to an average height for their genus, begin to snip 2-3 inches off the tips of the plant, every month or so to achieve maximum growth potential. Be careful not to cut more than a third of the plants foliage away though, as this will remove too many leaves and the plant will die.
After all the hard work you have put in to growing your herbs, make the most of them with Total Warehouse’s herb cutting and drying kits. The herb drying kit comes complete with a cast iron herb hanger, preserving instructions and seeds for growing Rosemary, Thyme and Lavender. The cutting kit comes with a wooden chopping board, mezzaluna knife for easy, quick and fine chopping and seeds for growing Parsley, Basil and Chive; Parsley and Chive are especially ideal for growing indoors as they don’t need as much sunlight as other herbs.