In Barb's Garden

...growing herbs indoors
by Barb Foster
by Barb Foster


Inspired to nuture, Barb Foster took up gardening over a decade ago. She has a particular passion for this areas hardy perennials.

Barb collects her own seeds, grows seedlings in a greenhouse and has 500 sq ft of growing beds plus numerous perennial flower beds in her Zone 1b garden in Chetwynd, B.C.

Barb writes weekly for the Chetwynd Echo.

November 2, 2003

If you like to use fresh herbs in your cooking, perhaps you would also like to grow your own herbs. In the winter herbs can be grown in a south, west, or east facing window. In the summer the south facing window could get too hot. If you haven't the window space grow lights could give the light you need to grow your own herbs. The problem of dry heat from a heat register can be alleviated by placing a deflector over the register to direct the hot dry air away from the plants. Frequent misting and/or a tray filled with pebbles and water placed under the plant pots (the pebbles are to keep the bottom of the pot above the water level) will increase humidity around the plants.

Plant containers should have good drainage, potted herbs will not flourish if they are waterlogged. Clay pots are most highly recommended. If pots are set on a saucer or inside another decorative container be sure to drain excess water within an hour of watering, or if the container is large enough to hold several plant pots, fill around the plant pots with peat moss to absorb excess moisture. Check the soil by prodding with a finger every day and keep the soil just below the surface constantly moist. If you can't provide rain water for your herbs allow tap water to sit for a day before watering or spray misting the herbs. If a plant should become excessively dry, set the pot in a pan of water for ten or fifteen minutes, to allow the soil to become thoroughly saturated.

Soil for herbs needs to be less fertile than regular potting soil, you will need to add peat and sand in equal parts with potting soil. Fill the bottom of pots with a one inch layer of gravel, broken brick or pot chards so that the drainage holes will remain free flowing.

Herbs need very small amounts of organic fertilizer a mixture of blood meal, horn chips, and bone meal can be added at a rate of 2 tbsp. to 4 cups of soil mix, when preparing the soil. Change the soil once a year. Never use animal manure, non organic plant food, or insecticides on herb plants intended for human consumption.

With a suitable environment for healthy plant growth established. The choice of herb plants is best determined by your own menus, grow the herbs you need for your favorite recipes. The easiest herbs to grow would be chives, thyme, basil, cress, and chervil. Divisions of herbs such as chives, summer savory, marjoram, basil, lemon balm, oregano, lovage, and parsley grown outdoors can be potted up and gradually acclimatized to indoor life. Some herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, and bay can be started from cuttings taken in summer and rooted in a mixture of peat and sand. Herb plants could be purchased, although I'm not aware of a local source here in Chetwynd at this time of the year, herbs would of course be available in the spring and early summer from our local growers. Starting herbs from seed is probably going to give the greatest selection. Seed catalogues are available from many suppliers. Richters Herbs , Goodwood, Ontario, L0C-1A0, Canada is a major supplier of herb seed in Canada. Search the internet for seed suppliers would be a place to begin.


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