Planting Ideas

Welcome spring with an indoor herb garden!

Temperatures warming? Birds chirping? Flowers peeking out from their beds? According to the calendar, Spring has officially sprung, and hopefully your surroundings are following suit. Regardless of what’s going on outside, why not give the season a gentle boost with some indoor gardening and greenery? Fresh herbs are fun, flavorful and relatively foolproof. And Atlas is here to get you started!

Where to grow? … The light side is the right side.
First, let’s figure out plant placement. If you’re planning to cook with your crop (and why wouldn’t you?), a kitchen window is ideal, provided it gets good sunlight. Most experts advise six hours of sun, minimum, with the sweet spot at about eight hours.

No window options? No problem.
A good grow light will work just as well. Plants should be placed within a foot or so of the lightbulb(s) for best results, and, depending on how much light your herbs require, 12 to 16 hours of lamplight per day is recommended.

In most cases, herbs get all the sun they need from a south-facing view. Tied for second place are east- and west- facing. North-facing isn’t a good option, unless you’re south of the equator, which we’re guessing isn’t the case.

If you’re growing herbs adjacent to a window (like, on the sill), keep in mind that temperatures and humidity will fluctuate with weather conditions, and take whatever steps are needed to keep plants healthy (hint: read the instructions!).

  • What to Grow: Perennial favorites
    What to Grow: Perennial favorites
    Year-round herbs are recommended for overall usefulness and heartiness (and, in most cases, yumminess). Whether from seed, cuttings, or a store, even the "black-thumbed" among us can usually raise a healthy sprig or two of the following.
  • Chives
    Chives
    A cousin of the onion, this herb grows long and skinny, and has a pretty purple bloom if allowed to blossom. Delish in dips, soups or salads, or as a flavor booster on eggs or baked potatoes.
  • Mint
    Mint
    Most think of candy canes or chewing gum when we hear the word, but these sturdy perennials are a beautiful, fragrant way to enhance your surroundings. Not to mention your iced tea, sauces, and desserts.
  • Oregano
    Oregano
    Oregano does for pizza and red sauce what ice cream does for cake – it makes a good thing even better. This member of the mint family is aromatic, full of flavor, freezes well, and blooms white and purple.
  • Parsley
    Parsley
    Not just something people throw away at restaurants! Yes, it’s a great garnish, but also a gorgeous green plant and a fantastic addition to soups, sauces, and salads. Parsley’s naturally robust flavor reduces the need for salt in recipes, and it’s also rich in iron, vitamins A and C, and other nutrients.
  • Rosemary
    Rosemary
    What would roasted lamb and potatoes be like without a sprinkle (or more) of rosemary? We don’t want to know! There’s something ever so comforting about the taste and smell of this little shrub (yes, shrub). Be aware, this one can grow up to 4 feet, so keep your pruners handy.
  • Thyme
    Thyme
    It’s about thyme – literally. This is another shrub-family herb, and its multi-shade green leaves trimmed in white make it especially appealing to the eye. Tiny pink and purple florets don’t hurt either. Thyme is wonderful paired with lemon in a variety of dishes.
  • Basil
    Basil
    There’s something intoxicating about the fragrance of fresh basil. And as far as the flavor it brings to sliced tomatoes and pasta sauces – fuhgettaboutit!! Given the right conditions and care, basil will grow quickly and produce a bountiful crop. Just don’t forget to harvest often and pinch out flower heads.

How to Grow? … Just add water (and some common sense)

  • Herbs can be grown in all different types of planters – galvanized steel, ceramic, plastic. Choose whatever best fits your budget, décor, and the anticipated size of your crop.
  • Some herbs start fine from seed, while others stand a better chance of thriving if you begin with plants or cuttings. Make sure you know the difference.
  • Almost all the herbs on our list do well in partial to full sun and loamy soil, which contains a mixture of clay, sand and organic material.
  • Keep soil moist, but don’t oversaturate. Make sure the pot or planter has ample drainage.
  • Most won’t require it, but if plants should start to wilt, a little organic plant food can help.
  • Most herbs do well in cool to moderately warm temperatures. A good rule of thumb – if you’re comfortable, so are they.

For LOTS more information about these and other herbs, visit the Farmer’s Almanac web site here and here.

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