Fresh herbs can turn an ordinary meal into a culinary masterpiece. While a wide variety of fresh cut herbs are available in local markets, growing your own indoor herb garden can save you time and money. In addition to the convenience, a kitchen herb garden can enhance the beauty and utility of your kitchen. Whether you choose mild, subdued flavorings or robust, flavorful aromatics, your indoor herbs can help you take your cooking to the next level.
Plan your indoor herb garden. Decide which herbs you like best and pick out some new herbs that you might want to try. Basil, oregano, thyme, chives, curly and flat leaf parsley and cilantro are widely used in a variety of dishes. In addition, you might like to try mint, lemongrass, stevia and sage.
Determine how much space and available sunlight you have for your indoor herbs. The space you have will determine how big your planting containers can be. If you've only got windowsill space, you'll want to purchase smaller clay pots, and plant herbs individually. If you've got a rack or table, you can combine groups of herbs in larger pots and also use decorative containers to create visual appeal.
Start individual herbs by filling one pot with a quality seed starter potting mix. Seed starting mixes already have some moisture content, so you won't need to add water before planting the seeds.
In each pot, make two or three evenly spaced holes, 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch deep, with a pencil or drinking straw. Many herb seeds are very tiny, so it will be difficult to see them once they hit the soil. Put 1 or 2 seeds in each hole and lightly cover with soil. Spray the top of the soil with room temperature water to moisten thoroughly.
Insert a bamboo skewer in the center of each pot, avoiding the seed holes. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the skewer, gently, to act as a miniature green house. Be sure not to puncture the wrap with the skewer. Secure the wrap with a rubber band, if needed.
Place the pots in a warm, sunny location and leave them undisturbed for several days. Choose a location that will allow at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. If you do not have enough sunlight, you can use growing lights to fulfill sunlight requirements. Each herb has its own germination time, but typically within 3 to 5 days you will start to see sprouts in most of the herb pots.
Remove the plastic wrap and skewers after 7 to 10 days, and add water to any pots that feel dry to the touch. Allow the herbs to develop two or three sets of true leaves before attempting to transplant them into a larger container.
Feed the herbs with a very low dose of water-soluble fertilizer every 2 to 3 weeks. Overfeeding can adversely affect the flavor and aroma of your herbs.