Creating an indoor herb garden can provide you with fresh herbs for cooking long after the summer garden is gone. Herbs contribute fragrance to indoor air as well. For centuries, people scattered herbs on house floors and bound them into nosegays. Simple equipment and a little care can enliven your cuisine and indoor climate year round with an indoor herb garden.
Setting up your herb garden
Select a sunny, warm indoor location inside. Herbs tend to be summer heat lovers, although they will adapt to less-than-ideal indoor conditions. If your location cannot provide 6 to 8 hours of direct daylight every day, consider mounting a plant-growing light over your garden. Ordinary indoor heat is usually adequate, but you may wish to augment this with a heating map designed for plant growing in chilly rooms or windows.
Choose pots or planters that will provide adequate space for successful herb growth. Pots 6 inches in diameter or the 24-inch window box planters you used on your porch during the summer are big enough to sustain plants through cold weather. While you may wish to use smaller containers, remember that root and plant development will be affected by smaller amounts of soil nutrients.
Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep in soil and sprinkle with a layer of soil to cover (unless herb package directions suggest otherwise). Sow 6 to 8 seeds in a 6-inch pot, 12 to 15 in a 24-inch planter. Keep remaining seeds for later sowing, indoors or out.
Water seeds and seedlings consistently. Soil should always be moist but not wet. Waterproof trays or saucers will protect indoor surfaces and permit drainage of excess water. Review package directions for specific watering requirements; some herbs do better when soil dries out considerably between waterings.
Thin seedlings when plants have attained 4 to 6 leaves and a height of 2 or 3 inches, leaving 1 or 2 of the strongest plants in a 6-inch pot and 4 to 6 plants in a 24-inch planter.
Maintain remaining plants with water and light. Increase artificial light during dark winter days, but resist the impulse to leave lights on overnight (plants need nighttime darkness as well as light for normal growth). Either keep your plants going indoors or set them outside once your last frost-date has passed and start new seeds indoors.