by Tara Green
(NaturalNews) Growing your own herbs can add a new dimension to your cooking and give you the opportunity to save money by making your own herbal teas, tinctures and salves. Some people think herb gardening is an option only available to those who have access to a plot of land, but this is not true. Even if you live in an apartment or condo with no outdoor space, you can still grow your own herbs.
Choosing the right plants
First, think about your apartment or condo’s gardening potential. The ideal situation for an indoor garden is to have windows which face south with no obstructions so your plants can bask in several hours of sunlight. If most of your windows face north or are hemmed in by other buildings, you can choose plants which require little sunshine, or you can purchase a grow light and timer. Consider the placement of heat sources in relation to your plants — indoors plants are unlikely to be effected by overnight chills but too much heat can be bad for them.
Also take your own habits into account — are you frequently away from home or are you able to tend your plants on a daily basis? Indoor plants obviously do not receive rainfall, so you may need to choose very low maintenance plants if you travel regularly. If you have pets that would interfere with plants, you may also want to think about where you can place the plants so your animals cannot reach them.
Unless you are an experienced gardener, it is best to start your indoor herb garden by selecting herbs which grow easily. Chives are a good option for those living in cooler climates or people who do not have windows with abundant sunshine. Parsley also has low sun requirements but grows more slowly so you will not be able to harvest it as quickly as chives. Bay trees are also relatively easy to grow, but like parsley, they require more of a time investment. This plant is also susceptible to scales if it becomes too dry so you will want to be sure to attend its water needs carefully.
Oregano, rosemary and thyme also grow relatively easily and can be good starter plants for novice herb gardeners. Consider, however, that these herbs are all used in Mediterranean cooking which means they grow naturally in sunny climates. If you choose to grow these plants, they will need abundant light.
Caring for your plants
Once you decide what herbs to grow purchase your seeds and other materials. When buying seeds, always check the expiration date on the package. Plant more seeds than you need, since it is likely only some of them will sprout.
Although a few plants, such as lemongrass stalks, grow in water, most require soil. You will most likely want to buy some potting soil for your indoor herb garden and natural fertilizer for your plants. You will also need containers — these need not be expensive, but you will want to take considerations such as drainage into account. Terra cotta planters can absorb water and cause plants to become overly dry so you will want to use these only with plants with low moisture requirements. If you are re-potting a plant which grew outdoors rather than starting from seed, select a container a few inches larger than the plant’s root ball.
Many plants require more humidity than indoor air naturally provides. You may want to place several plant containers on a tray which you cover with pebbles or marbles and water, being sure to keep the water low enough to prevent root rot. As the water evaporates, it provides moisture to the plant’s leaves. Replenish the water regularly to feed your plants needed humidity. To protect your indoor plants from pests, fill a spray bottle with soapy water and spray the entire plant, including the undersides of the leaves. When you are ready to harvest your herb plant, take no more than half if you want it to continue to grow and produce more for you.
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