Delicious, fragrant herbs add flavors to dishes, make wonderful perfumes and many of them have medicinal value. Fresh herbs are a great way to learn to garden, too. For the most part, they’re extremely forgiving and will grow just about anywhere that you plant them as long as they have sunshine and water; even inside. Today we’re going to talk about how to grow herbs indoors.
What Are Herbs?
Herbs are plants that are used to add flavor and texture to food. The oils may also be extracted for medicinal use or to make perfumes or bath oils. For instance, basil is common in Italian and Thai cuisine, though different varieties are favored.
Coriander and cumin are commonly used in Asian dishes and sage, tarragon and saffron are commonly found in Mediterranean dishes. Of course, all of these herbs are used throughout the world, so feel free to experiment with different flavor profiles!
Some Herbs with Medicinal Value
In addition to tasting delicious, many herbs have medicinal value and have been used for centuries in homeopathic medicine. Still to this day, herbs and herb oils are used to heal illnesses and promote wellness by many people.
For example, basil is used to help with gas and to build an appetite. It’s also used in a poultice to help with minor wounds. Chamomile has been used forever to help with sleep, soothe indigestion and upset stomach and relieve anxiety among other uses.
Echinacea helps with cold and fever few helps ease headache pains and arthritis pain. The lists goes on and on, with some herbs only helping a bit with little things while others have some pretty serious (and documented) healing powers.
The medicinal value of many herbs may just help you save yourself or a loved one if SHTF and you don’t have access to modern medicines. As a matter of fact, we recommend buying a book about how to use herbs medicinally. Just as they can cure, they can also kill. Just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they’re safe. Remember, arsenic is a naturally occurring mineral!
Herbs that Grow Well Together
When you’re growing plants in a limited space, you need to use that space as efficiently as possible. That means that some herbs may need to share their growing space. You need to be careful doing this because it’s possible for flavors to transfer from one plant to another even if they’re of a different species. Some herbs also have antiseptic and anti-fungal properties that make them great to grow with problem plants.
As our subscribers already know that in this month’s free report we talked about growing peppers. Most herbs grow extremely well with peppers; as a matter of fact, hot peppers actually help keep root rot at bay so if you’re growing an herb such as rosemary or sage that is particularly prone to root rot, consider growing them in the same pot as your indoor peppers. Two bangs for the same buck!
What Kind of Soil Should You Grow Herbs In?
Because many herbs are so prone to root rot, it’s best to grow them in soil that drains easily. That being said, they also need plenty of nutrients and ready access to water. This means a nice, loamy soil. So, the best advice that we can give is to go with a potting soil that has peat, compost and sand or vermiculite to promote drainage.
What Kind of Containers Can You Grow Herbs In?
Because of the root rot issue, it’s best to grow your herbs in containers that promote drainage. Avoid plastic containers because they don’t allow air and water to escape; that’s a perfect breeding ground for molds, fungi and other bad nasties that won’t do your roots any favors.
Instead, choose unglazed terra cotta pots. They’re porous and let water and air flow through. Make sure that there’s a hole in the bottom of the pot, too. Rocks and sand may be added to the bottom of the pot to help with drainage.
What Type of Seeds Should You Buy?
Without a doubt, the best kinds of seeds to buy are open-pollinated. This means that the plant is allowed to be pollinated naturally. This yields seeds that are true to the parent plants; when you regrow them, they’ll be exactly the same every time.
Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated seeds that have been carefully passed down from one generation to the next because of the quality and specific traits of the plant.
Hybrid seeds are made from artificially cross-pollinating two different plants that are genetically different in order to reap the benefits of both plants. The problem with hybrid seeds is that they’re unstable.
The first year using hybrid seeds, you’ll get good yield and the exact traits that you were looking for. However, the seeds from that batch are unpredictable; they may be exactly the same as the first generation, they may be like one parent or another, or they may be totally different. There’s no way to tell. We recommend avoiding hybrid seeds.
Finally, GMO (genetically modified organisms) seeds have been genetically modified, usually in order to be more resistant to disease or infestation. They literally have unknown organisms such as herbicides built right into the structure of the plant DNA. In other words, you’re eating more than just the plant!
Starting Your Herbs
It’s probably easiest to start your herbs in one of three ways. You can sprinkle a few of the seeds into your planter and separate them as they sprout, you can plant them in little individual peat cups, or you can germinate them in wet paper towels and then plant the sprout. We don’t really have a preference but if you’re planting the seeds, you only need to bury them about 1/4 inch deep.
It may take anywhere from 7-30 days to see germination depending upon what you’ve planted.
Transplanting Your Herbs
Once your sprouts grow to seedlings, you may need to transplant them. If you used peat pots and you need to separate them, make sure that your plant is big enough to be tough enough to handle having its roots separated. How far apart you need to plant the herbs depends upon the herb itself so just do your homework.
Growing Your Herbs
The great thing about many herbs such as basil, parsley, mint or other leafies is that you can use them as soon as they start to grow a bit. Remember not to take it too early though or you won’t have anything left for next time!
Root rot is caused by too much watering so wait until the soil in your plant feels fairly dry to the touch before you water it again. When you do water it, add so much water that it’s running out the hole at the bottom then leave it alone until it dries out again.
Regarding placement, herbs like lots of sun. They need at least 5-6 hours of full sun daily and more if possible. Be sure to rotate the pot so that the plants don’t all reach in the same direction for the sun. It’s never a bad idea to add some artificial light, either.
Video first seen on The Home Depot
Harvesting Your Herbs
This is the fun and delicious part! Once your plants are mature, you can begin to pull leaves and flowers from it to use however you see fit. Clip them so that you don’t risk pulling the plant out of the soil by the roots. Be sure to keep some seeds from each batch so that you can start your herb garden over when it’s time.
Most herbs are preserved simply by hanging them up and letting them dry until there is no moisture whatsoever left in them. You can then chop them or store the leaves whole. It’s all up to you; they’re your herbs!
If you have any suggestions about how to grow herbs indoors, please tell us about it in the comments section below!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.