Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Growing your own herbs has its advantages. Not only do you get to enjoy them in the kitchen as you prepare your favourite dishes, but they also look and smell good in the the garden.
As our growing season is short, its nice to be able to start and grow herbs indoors, and if you choose, they can be planted outdoors in late spring, when the temperatures have warmed up. Now that the days are getting longer March is a good time to start seeds indoors and get a head start on the season. The following list are some of the popular herbs that grow well indoors.
Basil is often the easiest herb to start from seed, and is also often the fastest to germinate. They can start to sprout in around four days. Basil seedlings do not like to be kept too wet. Allow them to go dry between waterings, and remove excess water from the tray. Once the first set of true leaves appear you can transplant the seedlings into a small pot.
Chives can also be grown indoors. Seeds will germinate around ten days after being sowed, and will fill out fairly quickly. Once they have reached 2-3 centimetres tall, they can be transplanted into a small pot.
Cilantro can be started indoors, but it does not like to be transplanted, so it is best to directly seed into a 15 cm pot. They will germinate in 7-10 days and once sprouted can be moved to their permanent location.
Dill is a great seed to start for beginners, because it is large and germinates within ten days. It is best to start these directly into a larger pot as they prefer not to be transplanted.
Parsley, Oregano, and Sage can all be started indoors but tend to be slow to germinate. It can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks before you see young seedlings. To grow them successfully indoors, keep them evenly moist, ensuring they have good drainage.
Thyme is also slow to germinate. The seed is very small so in order not to over seed you can use tweezers for planting, or some people like to mix a bit of sand into the seeding mixture to loosen it up and help spread the seed out.
Regardless of which herbs you decide to start from seed, they will all need the same basic care. The first step is to start them in the right medium. Seed starting mixes are lighter than regular potting mixes and this will help seeds poke their way through once they’ve sprouted. This type of mix also helps to ensure your seeds aren’t being waterlogged which is especially important with herbs.
In order to germinate, herbs need warm soil and during the cooler months you can ensure they get the right soil temperature by placing your seed trays (or pots) on a heating mat or other warm surface.
Light is also very important and can be a challenge, especially over the winter months. Herbs like 8-10 hours of daily light so over the winter months you can help by placing a bright light on an adjustable rack over them. Plants that are on the window ledge should be turned every few days, to prevent them from growing towards the light and becoming leggy.
Feeding seedlings with 10-52-10 first and then switching to 20-20-20 will help create strong healthy plants.
Starting these herbs in the spring, will give you the chance to enjoy them for a number of months indoors before placing them outdoors for the summer. Herbs fresh from your own indoor garden are sure to add a flavourful punch to your meals!