You live in the city and you want to grow your own herbs, but you aren’t sure where to start? What herbs are the best to grow in an apartment? What herbs are best to grow together? What supplies are you going to need to start your herb garden? All valid questions and all that will be answered right here, right now. Growing a herb garden is easier and cheaper than you think.
What herbs go together
Choosing the correct herbs for an urban dwelling is important. It is also important to choose herbs that grow well together. Herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, bay and oregano prefer well drained soil. Whereas, herbs such as chives, mint, chervil, parsley and coriander prefer plenty of water. While all herbs love the sun, some prefer to sunbathe more than others. And if you are thinking about planting two different herbs in the same pot, remember cross pollination will give you a different tasting herb than you may expect.
When deciding what herbs to plant together keep in mind both the aesthetic quality you are looking for and most importantly the plants needs. If you want to plant two different herbs in one planter, parsley and chives would be a good combination. Then place next to an oregano and thyme planter. Oregano because of the natural humidity it will produce and thyme because of the needs of the plants are similar. However, always be aware of cross pollination. When two plants share a planter, they may also cross pollinate giving you an unexpected flavor.
But if you must put two different plants in the same planter (and nothing is wrong with a little experimentation) remember:
Plants that like plenty of water include, chives, mint and cilantro.
Plants that like well drained soil include, rosemary, sage, thyme, bay and oregano.
Keep the plants that like water together and the plants that like it a bit drier together.
Plants that are finicky, like basil should be planted in a separate planter so you can attend to its special needs. Plants that grow horizontally, specifically those of the mint family, your mint and lemon balm should be placed in their own planter to allow them to spread and grow. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t spend time together. If the plants are placed close it will help with the humidity factor your plants need.
Aesthetically there are so many ways to showcase your indoor gardening skills. Experiment a lot. If you are doing the window sill herb garden, put the mint planter next to an oregano and thyme planter. That way you have plants growing in multiple directions, and each with a distinct appearance.
There is no wrong way to display your garden as long as you keep the plants specific needs in mind.
What will you need to start an urban herb garden?
Duh! Of course, you are going to need pots, but what pots you choose is as important as what herbs you will choose.
The most important thing is making sure your pots have adequate drainage holes. If water can languish in the bottom of your pots your roots will rot. Use glazed or plastic containers for your pots and get creative.
Caveat: if you live in a drier environment, use a ceramic pot instead of a porous one.
- Saucer for every pot. You want to have something to catch the water draining out of your pots, otherwise you will ruin whatever the planter is sitting on.
Obtain plastic, rubber or metal saucers. Clay saucers look nice, but they allow moisture to pass through which will rot your roots.
- Size Matters
One size does not fit all. For instance, if you are growing basil you will need a deeper planter because basil has deep roots. Likewise, if you are growing mint you will need rectangular box because mint likes to spread out. (more on both coming up).
There is a difference between potting mixes and potting soil.
You want potting mixes, they are lighter and will have an aerator such as perlite (those little white stones you see in the mix).
Get some peat moss to moss and sand. The moss will help the moisture loving herbs and the sand will benefit the herbs that prefer their soil a little drier.
The best fertilizer is sea weed extract or fish emulsion. Both are great fertilizers for your indoor herbs and try to obtain both in liquid form.
The best spot for your herbs will be in the kitchen, especially if you have a kitchen that has a nice sunny south facing window. That is ideal. But with most apartments, that is not the case. So, find a window that is south or southwest facing, a window that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Sometimes this can also be a window that is facing east or west.
Never use a window facing north.
If natural light is going to be a problem, it is no problem. Invest in grow lights which can be obtained quite inexpensively online.
A quick look on Amazon.com and you will find grow lights from $28.99 to $115.00
All the items to start your garden can be obtained online, at your local plant nursery, or even some grocery stores.
Never ever use the soil from outside to start your indoor garden. The outdoor soil can be contaminated or carry insects both of which you want to keep away from the indoors.
What herbs to choose for your indoor garden?
Herbs are easy to grow indoors. The question is what herbs you want, and that depends on your needs. Are you growing for food, aromatic or the aesthetic beauty of the greenery in the middle of the city? Spoiler alert…it doesn’t matter because herbs will fulfill all those needs.
Here are 9 herbs to get you started:
One pruned basil plant will give you about ½ cup of basil each week.
In a 6” pot, pack it with potting mix. Sprinkle the basil seeds on the soil. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. Mist liberally.
Basil loves the sun. Place the pot in a south facing window, no drafts and beware of nighttime temperature drops. Basil does not like the cold at all.
If you use a growing light, let the plant stay under the growing light for 14 hours a day. If the plant looks to leggy the lights are not close enough. If white spots appear on the leaves the lights are too close.
Rotate the plant so all sides get a taste of the sunlight or artificial light.
Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet.
A month after planting start using liquid fertilizer to keep your leaves vibrant green.
Two months after planting you should have enough basil to start consummation.
For continuous harvests, you will need to plant a batch of seeds every 3-5 weeks.
Will need window box planter as ginger roots grow horizontally
Start with a living ginger root. Choose a root that is firm and plump with several eye buds on it (eye buds are like the bumps like you find on a potato).
Soak the ginger root in warm water overnight before planting.
Fill the planter with planting mix.
Place the ginger root with eye bud pointing up and cover it with 1-2 inches of soil.
Place the pot in a spot that stays warm and doesn’t get a lot of bright light.
Keep the soil moist. Do not over-water.
After 2-3 weeks you should see shoots coming up.
A few months after growth begins, small pieces of ginger can be harvested.
Move the soil at the edges to find stems that are growing underneath.
Cut the desired amount off a stem toward the edge of the pot and then replace the soil to allow it to continue to grow.
Use a larger preferably horizontal planter with adequate drainage.
Fill planter with well-drained clay or sandy loam. Add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil. Spread lemon balm seed evenly…it grows quickly. Be ready to thin the seedlings as they grow so there is enough space between the plants.
Place the planter in a spot that gets at least six hours of sun a day.
Water the plant weekly. The soil has to be consistently moist for healthy growth. BUT do not overwater or the plant will mildew.
Trim dead flowers and leaves.
To harvest just pull off the sprigs when needed.
Tie 5-6 stems together and hang them in a warm dark location for 1-3 weeks.
You will know that the leaves are ready when the feel dry and brittle to the touch.
Fill a 6” pot with pre-moistened potting mix.
Liberally spread the chive seeds over the pre-moistened mix, covering with a thin layer of pre-moistened mix, about ¼ “deep.
Place pot in a sunny window. If the window option is not available, place pot under grow light.
Keep seeds moist with a mist of water.
Should see plants within two weeks.
Indoor chives appreciate other growing pots close by to provide humidity.
Fill deep pot 6” or more with potting mix.
Sprinkle just a few seeds on the surface of the soil and fill with ¼” of remaining soil.
Place in sunny window as it needs six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day.
Turn the pot every three days so the plant doesn’t lean.
Water the pot regularly to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
If too many seedlings emerge thin them out, by clipping with scissors or pinching. Don’t pull them out…you might damage the tap roots of the other plants.
Feed plant every two weeks with fish emulsion or half-strength liquid fertilizer.
Choose a nice deep clay pot with really good drainage for your thyme.
Fill clay pot half full with potting mix…evenly distribute seeds.
Place pot in window that will get at least 6 hours of sunlight.
Thyme is drought resistant be careful not to overwater.
Thyme can be separated fairly easily to produce more plants, so when it gets larger just repot.
To harvest clip the stems once they begin to grow leaves. Both leaves and stems hold the flavor.
Choose a planter 6” deep and at least 12” diameter with excellent drainage.
Oregano grows better in moderately fertile soil, you won’t need additional fertilization
Place plant in south facing window, it needs lots of sunshine. The alternative is 14 hours of grow light.
Water only when the soil is dry to the touch. Don’t overwater.
Oregano grows up to two feet tall.
Choose the type of mint you want…there are many varieties, the most familiar variety is the mojito mint, peppermint
Mint like its cousin Lemon Balm does not play well with others. It likes to spread itself out, so plant in a window box planter or something creative that has horizontal space and good drainage.
Use a plastic container as opposed to ceramic, ceramic lose moisture quicker.
Fill the planter with potting mix packed loosely
With your fingers make a small hole in the soil.
Carefully place the mint seedling in the hole.
Move the potting mix around so that the roots are covered, and the seedling can stand.
Water the plant immediately.
Put the plant in indirect sunlight, morning sun and some shade in the afternoon.
Rotate the plant every three days.
Water the plant at least every 2-3 days, touch the top soil if dry the plant needs watering.
In between watering mist the plant, mint likes humidity.
You can also place plant on a tray of pebbles in water for humidity factor.
Between 2-6 weeks you should be able to start plucking off the leaves for consumption.
Be sure to remove any flowering buds on the plant before they open.
Use an unglazed terra cotta planter with adequate drainage to allow more moisture and air to pass through the roots.
Need a mixture of potting soil and sand, the indoor cilantro plant needs extra nutrition for the roots.
When placing the seeds in the potting soil mixture, give room for the plants to grow. Ultimately, you want your plants 3-4” apart.
Be prepared to fertilize the plant at least once a week.
Place the cilantro in a spot where it will receive 4-5 hours of sun a day.
Water the plant only when the soil is dry to the touch. But when watering water until the water can be seen coming out of the drainage holes.
For harvesting cut the cilantro plant one-third of the way down, leaving a few leaves on the intact stem.
What herbs grow well in shade
There are several herbs that can thrive in the shade.
- Lemon Balm
15 Phenomenal Indoor Herb Gardens
Check out this link from homedit.com to give you ideas on how you can style you own home garden.
Start your herb garden for your food, throwing fresh basil on your pizza, having fresh mint for your mojito is majestic. Or for your health, the aroma from a lemon balm, or basil can lift your mood. Rosemary and parsley help purify the air. And by talking to your plants you not only expunge your daily rants but you release carbon dioxide that the plants covert to food.