If you are craving good comfort foods, you will find that fresh herbs add to the taste of a delicious home-cooked meal. It is satisfying to be able to just pick a few herbs and add them to all your family dishes from your own indoor herb garden. What do you need to get started? All it takes are a few properly prepared containers and some sunlight. Some helpful tips on growing and maintaining herbs follow.
The first thing to know is that you should grow the herbs that you and your family like best. Some suggestions include parsley, rosemary, oregano, dill, and sage. If you have an outside area, you can add basil and fennel or you can purchase these fresh from the herb section of your grocery store.
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If you purchase plants from the local nursery, you will save yourself a lot of time over growing seeds. You do not have to choose the largest plants, simply look for the ones that are most healthy and show the most rounded growth.
Most garden centers will be able to point you in the right direction on the proper containers and soil to use. One rule to consider is that the container must have the proper drainage as herbs do best in dry soil. You may want to use a water container under the pots to catch water run off and a little gravel in the bottom of the pot will help keep the soil from washing away.
Most herb growers recommend that you do not have the richest mixture of soil as this makes a lot of foliage but produces very little flavor. What is most recommended is two parts potting soil to one part coarse sand. Perlite is often used as well. This will guarantee the plants will provide plenty of taste in your cooking.
Herbs will like a south or west facing window that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day. If you do not have the sunlight, you can use artificial light, but that seems to take away from the naturalness of the process for many gardeners.
You will need to water weekly or twice weekly, but do not over water. Fertilizer should be used and should be a slow timed release type such as pellets or sticks and are available at any garden store.
You can take and use the leaves of the herbs daily or you can dry them and store them to use later. If you want to encourage new growth, be sure to cut off whole stems and not just the leaves. Do not butcher the plant down, though, as it will not live if you take off more than one-third of the total plant at one time.
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To dry the herbs, just take and hang them upside down. This encourages the oils to flow back into the leaves. This process takes from two to four weeks. Once dry, store the herbs in a cool and dark place.
As you can tell from the above, herbs are simple to grow and add a freshness to your foods that cannot be purchased. You will have the satisfaction of providing for yourself and your family by growing herbs on your window sill. You can have pungent and tasty herbs 365 days a year with just a very little effort.