There’s something wonderful about being able to add fresh herbs to any meal.
While jars of dried herb mixes are great, there’s nothing like growing your own fresh herbs. Of course, just like any other kind of plant, herbs are subject to the whims of nature and the weather. If your garden starts to get too cold during the winter, then you might have a hard time keeping your herbs alive.
The good news? You can always take a different route and grow delightful herbs on a windowsill somewhere in your home. The great thing about indoor herbs is that they can thrive all year round, as long as you give them plenty of time, attention and light.
So, which herbs should you grow indoors?
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Grow Your Own Fresh Herbs
Growing herbs indoors mean that you don’t have to forego the delicious flavors you love in the winter months. However, all plants do require warmth and sunlight, so you’ll need to start by setting up space on a window ledge or countertop that gets plenty of sunshine.
A good rule of thumb is to place your herbs in a space where they can soak up at least six hours of sun every day. You can also consider investing in a grow light, which gives extra light and warmth to your plants at any time of year.
Remember that herbs also need to be planted in pots with plenty of good drainage. If you’re concerned that you’ll end up with a pool of water on your windowsill, you can use a saucer to catch the excess moisture.
Once you’ve got everything set up, here are the best herbs to grow indoors.
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One of the most versatile and popular herbs in the world, particularly when paired with tomato dishes, basil is very easy to grow indoors. You can pinch off some of the leaves to add to your salad or even create your own pesto.
You’ll need very rich potting soil to grow basil from seed. However, you can sometimes buy plants that are already budding. Remember that basil loves bright light and heat, so you’ll need to put it on either a western, or southern-facing window. Moreover, avoid any drafty or cool places. Remember that basil isn’t a long-term houseplant, you’ll need to keep replacing your batches with new seeds.
Chives are another delicious herb with a well-known flavor around the world. The spiky leaves of the plant add an extra kick to soups, eggs, and salads. You can use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip off small portions of individual leaves or trim the entire plant at once to keep it looking tidy.
Remember to always leave about 2 inches of growth if you want your leaves to re-sprout, and stick with rich, organic soil. Again, you’ll need plenty of light, so try a south-facing window.
One of the great things about mint is how versatile it can be. There are a wide variety of different flavors available, depending on what you prefer. You could devote an entire garden to various species of mint. You can snip sprigs and leaves for drinks and teas or add them to salads and desserts for an extra kick.
Remember that mint plants often grow very fast, so you’ll need to make sure that you’re keeping on top of them. Keep the soil of your mint plants moist too and give them plenty of strong and moderate light throughout the year.
Oregano is a must-have herb for central American, Mexican, and Middle-Eastern foods. As a member of the mint family, it also grows very well indoors. You can strip leaves from snipped stems to add to meats, tomato sauces, stews, and soups. One thing to note with oregano is that drying the leaves first can give it a more pungent flavor.
You can grow oregano in a similar way that you would other mints but avoid letting the soil dry out too much. Water it when the surface of the earth goes dry and give the plant plenty of light.
I’m of Greek-Cypriot heritage, so use a lot of oregano! However, I do tend to use the dried variety, and so, don’t have any recipes (that I can think of!) using fresh oregano. But here are some great Cypriot recipes using oregano:
Whether you choose flat-leaf or curly parsley, you’re sure to love the flexibility of this amazing herb. Far more than just your basic garnish, parsley brings flavor and color to salads, soups and sauces alike. It’s delicious in home-made pesto, and it’s great when you’re cooking fish or chicken-based dishes.
With your parsley plant, harvesting individual leaves is easy, all you need to do is pinch off the amount you want close to the base of the plant. Make sure that you have a very deep pot for parsley and plenty of light.
I love fresh flat-leaf parsley – it is used a lot in Cypriot recipes too. I especially love adding it to salads.
Known as cilantro in North America (the word “cilantro” is the Spanish name for coriander leaves), coriander is a somewhat complicated herb. While some people love the fresh taste of raw cilantro in their dishes, others can’t stand the distinctive flavor. You won’t know for certain until you try a dose of this herb. It is best paired with some avocado in guacamole or added to your tomato salsa.
Coriander is a delightful addition to a range of dishes, depending on your tastes. It grows best indoors but you have to make sure that the soil can drain regularly. You’ll also need to water the herbs frequently to make sure that they have consistent moisture.
On colder days, the delightful earthy scent of a rosemary plant can give you all the comfort and warmth you need to brighten your morning. The needle-like leaves of the rosemary plant are excellent when crushed and added to meals like soups, potato-based dishes, and anything with lamb. You can create some amazing recipes with rosemary in pork or chicken meals too. For a flavourful broth, snip a couple of leaves off your plant and throw them into your soup maker or consider mincing them if you want a more aromatic taste.
The great thing about rosemary is that it has no trouble tolerating hotter temperatures. In cooler months, the plant thrives well as long as you can still give it plenty of light.
Quite possibly my favourite of all herbs – I just love the aroma and flavour. I tend to use rosemary more in the autumn/winter recipes.
Finally, thyme is one of the most renowned herbs in the world. Considering the delightful fragrance of its small green leaves and the beauty of its white or purple flowers in spring, it’s no wonder this herb is a popular choice. Thyme thrives well when it is planted in a container that can drain the soil easily. The herb also requires plenty of regular trimming so that it doesn’t over-grow.
Leaves of a thyme plant are excellent in a wide variety of dishes – some people even use them for desserts. Make sure that your thyme gets plenty of light and moisture.