Growing Herbs Indoors Successfully
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Before the weather turns cold each fall, I harvest as many herbs as I can and set them out to dry so they will be available to use through the winter. But there’s nothing like fresh herbs to add to a recipe. So I snip some nice large pieces of the various culinary herbs I grow outside in my kitchen garden and put them aside to grow indoors through the winter.
Tender herbs like basil won’t survive our winters here in Maine. As soon as the temperatures dip down below 40 degrees or so, all my basil will start to droop and turn black, but by bringing the plants inside, I can be assured of fresh basil all winter long. I even like to bring some perennial herbs inside since they die back in the winter and are hardly convenient to gather when they’re covered in several inches of snow. Perennial herbs such as lavender, mint and thyme do especially well indoors through the winter, so by snipping off some springs, I can extend their life as well.
Culinary herbs are wonderful for your chickens’ health as well. Every variety of herb has some type of unique health benefit. So sharing some fresh herbs with them in the winter when they can’t get out to eat grass and weeds is a much-appreciated treat for your flock and will help keep them in tip-top shape.
Growing Herbs Indoors
Top Choices for Growing Herbs Indoors
Over the years I’ve experimented with growing various varieties of herbs indoors over the winter. Some do fine with little attention, while others seem to suffer in the weak winter light and low temperature. Some don’t transplant well, while others do. My top choices for growing herbs through the winter include basil, lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme.
Growing Winter Herbs
If you decide you want something more permanent, it’s simple to plant some winter herbs in pots or planters. You can either dig up the entire herb plant from your garden, or snip off a healthy piece — at least four to six inches tall. If you dig up the whole plant, simply replant it in a six-inch container in some nice potting soil (you can mix in some sand for better drainage) and place it in a south-facing window.
If you are re-potting trimmings, you will need to put them in water until they grow roots, then you can pot them as described above. Another option is starting your herbs from seed right in the pots or buying seedlings, although seedlings might be hard to find in late fall. Digging up plants from your garden is always an option.
Instead of a row of pots on the windowsill, a wall-mounted herb garden is a fun option. Often the air right next to a window is too cold for tender herbs like basil, so locating your indoor herb garden on a sunny wall is a better option.
No matter how you choose to get your indoor herb garden started, you’ll want to pinch or snip your plants regularly to encourage bushy growth and to avoid the plants getting “leggy”. Be sure to leave at least two-thirds of the plant anytime you prune and pluck or snip off the stem right above one of the sets of leaves.
Enjoy your indoor herbs all winter long in your cooking or your chicken keeping and then come spring you can plant them in your garden or just move the containers outside to a sunny location. Growing herbs indoors is easy, costs almost nothing and will bring a bit of summer into your home during the cold, blustery winter months.
Have you been successful growing herbs indoors? What varieties do you find easiest for growing herbs indoors? Let us know in the comment below.