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Herb garden indoors
In this article we look at growing your own herb garden indoors and the physical as well as psychological benefits of doing this.

Growing herbs indoors allows you to enjoy homegrown produce whether you're short on garden space or just want to add some greenery and fragrance to your home. It can also serve as a low-stakes entry into more substantial edible gardening.

  • Growing herbs indoors helps to reduce stress and increase productivity. Office environment studies in the UK and the Netherlands discovered that productivity can increase by up to 15% by having plants around us
  • Keeping herbs indoors can help to keep us mentally alert. It allows us access to to a different thinking space and provides a soft fascination that allows us to break our concentration away from work and re-energise
  • Indoor herbs offer access to plants for people who struggle with mobility such as care home residents or people who do not have access to outside growing spaces
  • Encourages children to explore and understand more the different kinds of herbs around them
  • Helps children learn how herbs can used for eating and drinking, for example, stripping oregano leaves from their stalks for a pizza or putting mint leaves into an ice cube tray to freeze and then use to pep up a drink on a hot summer’s day
  • Cordoning off an area for your indoor herb pots also provides a safe place for children to explore their culinary interests and curiosity without fear of them ingesting something they shouldn’t
  • Make sure your herbs and the containers that hold them are easily accessible so that you do not have to crouch down or stretch out when watering or harvesting them
  • Water-retaining granules can really save on watering and slow-release fertiliser is an easy way to feed the herbs
  • Small watering cans are available that can help you control the flow of water by means of a button at the top of the can that releases water when pressed, allowing you to have greater control over how much water you give the herbs
Indoor herb garden mint

When growing herbs indoors, there are number of things to bear in mind.

Firstly if growing herbs in the kitchen, make sure your herbs are placed near a south facing window to maximise the amount of light they receive during a day. Most herbs require around six hours of sunlight every day and some will still do well if situated near a west facing window. Signs of plants lacking the amount of light they need include elongating of stems between the leaves (becoming leggy); leaves not growing to their full potential size; and yellowing discolouration of the plant. For the keen kitchen gardener, grow lights are available which take care of many of the issues caused by lack of light.

Most herbs enjoy the same temperatures as humans. So, if you aren’t feeling too hot or too cold, then it’s likely your herbs will be feeling the same! It’s worth remembering that temperatures next to a window will be more extreme during winter months, so make sure that leaves are not directly touching windows where there is a risk they may freeze. Another advantage to growing herbs indoors is that pots can be moved around the house to ensure they are in the best areas to suit their growth.

Watering indoors requires some thought. Make sure you have a suitable watering tray underneath your pot to ensure any excess liquid does not end up on your kitchen counter or windowsill. Clay pots can heat up in more extreme temperatures and therefore tend to dry out quicker.

If plants are in reasonably sized plastic containers, a quick and easy way to establish moisture levels within the pot is to simply pick them up. If they are heavy, then they most likely have enough water and if they are light, then watering them from underneath would be a good idea.

Seed sowing in trays

This is a simple summary of how to sow seeds so that you can grow herbs, veg and flowers at home.

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  • Parsley is a member of the carrot family that comes in flat leafed or curly varieties and is a staple in many dishes such as tzatziki
  • Thyme is a Mediterranean herb that the ancient Greeks used to sprinkle into their bath water. It is said to possess many health benefits as well as making a good rub for meat
  • Basil is an annual so will only live for one year. It comes in green and purple varieties and can be blended into a pesto
  • Oregano is a small leaved plant that likes full sun and can suffer if watered too much in the winter. It goes very well in a pizza or pasta sauce
  • Mint is a tenacious herb that can grow from cuttings in a jar. It can be used to add extra flavour to desserts such as chocolate and ice cream
  • Lemon balm is part of the mint family and has a strong citrus smell to its leaves. Leaves can be put in hot water to make a calming tea.
  • Chives are part of the Allium or onion family and produce edible purple flowers around spring. They can be used to add a soft oniony flavour to an omelette

There are many more herbs which you can incorporate into your indoor herb garden in addition to the ones mentioned above, for example, sage, rosemary and marjoram as well as more adventurous additions such as tarragon and lemon verbena.

How we've supported client gardeners remotely through the pandemic

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