Growing Healthy Herbs for the Kitchen

Who wouldn’t love freshly picked herbs right from their own garden just as sautéing requires? Most mountain herbs can be grown outdoors on a seasonal basis, but a few can be produced right through winter. 

by Ken Lain, the Mountain Gardener, Watters Garden Center

Herb top choicesFive herbs outshine the rest with several close runners-up. Rosemary, lavender, thyme, oregano and basil top the list. Mint, sage and cilantro come in a close second. Use a full-spectrum light inside, herbs can grow anywhere in your home, including a basement.

Herb soil — The No. 1 ingredient when growing herbs in a container is the soil. Use Watters Potting Soil and plant your herbs directly into this super nutrient soil. Don’t use soil dug from the outdoor garden; it becomes dry and very hard.

Herb food — To maximize the harvest and fragrance, fertilize indoor herbs every other week with Watters Root & Grow compost tea. Never use salt-based fertilizers or water on plants.

Herb size — Herbs in the yard become very large, but I’m assuming indoor herbs will be harvested more often with easy indoor access. Plants like dill, fennel and tarragon are quite large and probably need a square foot of space with 2 clearance feet above them. Smaller plants like thyme, chives, oregano and garlic need only 1 foot of clearance. If space allows, peppers, spinach, lettuce and other vegetables can be grown indoors.

Herb windows — East facing windows grow the best plants. North facing windows require the addition of full-spectrum lights to keep plants healthy.

Herb greenhouse — There are more greenhouses in the area than you would imagine and even more Arizona Rooms, much like an indoor greenhouse. These are bright rooms with lots of light where plants thrive. They extend your growing season indefinitely. I set up an inspirational indoor greenhouse board on Watters Pinterest that readers can enjoy.

Herb irrigation — Those new to growing herbs indoors are far more likely to overwater plants. Plants help each other keep cool and increase the humidity within the room.