Indoor Herb Garden Kits - Some Tips for Your Indoor Herb Garden
AeroGarden at work
Aerogarden Indoor Garden Kits
Starting an Indoor Herb Garden
One of the most popular things to try growing indoors are herbs. They are popular for two main reasons. One, they are generally forgiving as plants go, and don't need a lot of water, fertilizer or light. Secondly, when you are cooking with herbs, most of the time you don't need a lot of them for a recipe, so a single small plant can often supply all you need for your culinary efforts in a measured time frame.
There are a number of ways you can get started with an indoor herb garden. If you don't feel you have a green thumb, and just want to have something that works, you may want to try an Aerogarden Herb Garden kit. This is a small indoor hydroponic unit that pretty much automates the whole process of indoor gardening. It has a built-in grow light, the pump for the hydroponics unit is computer controlled, and you buy seed pods that are designed for the unit that handles all the hydroponics for your garden. They are quite effective, but are on the more expensive side, running anywhere from $120 to $200. You will need to buy the seed kits to start again, but they will grow more than just herbs, for example there are peppers, lettuce, flowers, and small tomatoes that can be grown in one.
This is a great gift for someone who likes to combine technology with gardening.
Herb Garden Kits
There are also more traditional types of kits for a beginner. Typically one of these will have the seeds you need, some growing medium like peat pots or peat pellets, and a tray to hold the pots and to contain the water. Some more expensive kits will also come with grow light, or a heater coil for keeping the seeds at the right temperature.
If you tend to want to do it yourself, a simple indoor planter can work well for your indoor herb garden.
Tips To A Healthy Indoor Herb Garden
Whether you decide to do it with an indoor herb garden kit or do it yourself, here's some tips to keep your herb garden healthy.
Container - You can try to put all your herbs together in one container, but often you'll have more luck with several similar containers. This allows you to control the lighting and the water level for each type of plant individually. It's especially helpful for plants that have very aggressive roots like mint which really need to be in their own planter. In any case, drainage is a key part of choosing a good container, and you will probably want to put a layer of crushed pottery or gravel at the bottom to help with the drainage.
Lighting - While herbs don't need as much light as vegetables, it still helps to keep them full and healthy with adequate light. If you don't have a good south window for your natural lighting, you may decide to supplement your lighting with something like fluorescent grow lights. If your herbs start to drop their lower leaves or take on a leggy look you might need more light like a grow light. Recently LED grow lights have become popular as they are more energy efficient and can put out light the plants can use more efficiently. You can read more about the advantages in this LED grow light review.
Starting Seeds - With an Aerogarden, starting plants is relatively straightforward. For regular containers, the easiest thing to do is buy herbs in small pots, but if you are growing them indoors there's a good chance you are trying to grow them out of season, so you may have to resort to starting herbs from seed. The advantage to this is you have many more varieties of herbs to choose from, and starting seeds indoors in peat pots or peat pellets is relatively easy.
Watering - With herbs it's often easier to overwater than to underwater. They don't usually need a great deal of water. The best way to check the water level is to simply put your finger in the soil, and water if it's dry all the way down. Make sure it's well drained, and most times you will find that once every week or two is enough. Most herbs are very resilient.
Varieties of Herbs - You'll have the most success with growing compact varieties of herbs when growing herbs indoors. Many herbs like basil will easily grow to more than 2 feet in height outside, which will overwhelm your indoor herb garden. Popular compact varieties for an indoor herb garden are thyme, sage, and Greek oregano. Other herbs that grow well indoors include lavender, parsley, rosemary, sage, angelica, chamomile, dill, fennel, and chives.
Soil - As we mentioned, drainage is critical, and the soil plays a big part in that. Once you've chosen a good pot, make sure you use something that drains welll like a commercial potting soil, or one of the soilless mixes can be a good substitute. A lot of fertilizing is not necessary most times, but you can fertilize every other month or so and see good results in your indoor garden.
Harvesting - Herbs are not picked, but taken as cuttings. When your plants get about 6 inches in height or so, start taking some cuttings for your cooking. Leave some healthy growth to regenerate, and get cooking!
Cooking With Herbs
As mentioned earlier, your indoor herb garden will afford you fresh ingredients. But what if you didn't need those herbs when they are fresh? Well, here are some cookbooks for you to have a recipe ready when your herbs are ready. Not the normal way to build a menu, but certainly practical. Bon Appetite!