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HOW TO | GROW HERBS INDOORS

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Before you start, here’s everything you need to know

There is nothing more satisfying than sprinkling fresh oregano on a home-baked pizza or the smell of rosemary or basil in your pantry. And what better way to get flavour at hand than by growing your own herbs? But first, let us put one of your biggest worries regarding this to rest – you do not need a huge outdoor space. A few pots in your balcony or near your kitchen window will suffice. We tell you some crucial things to keep in mind before starting your indoor herb garden:

Right spot. You’ll need a bright space with ample natural light and good ventilation. If sunlight is scarce where you stay or the space is slightly cramped, you can use a few clamp-on reflector lights with fluorescent bulbs as substitutes. Remember to place the lamps four to six inches away from the plant for its healthy growth.

mini indoor herb garden under light

Right container. Any pot that is at least six inches tall, with drainage holes, can be used. A terracotta pot is ideal because it is porous and allows for flow of water and air to and from the soil. Use a saucer, liner or drain pan (in plastic, rubber or metal) under the pot to collect water that might overflow or seep out, so the surface beneath stays protected.

Thryme Oregano Sage in pots with base

Right amount of water. Plants grow fast during summer and therefore require regular and frequent watering. During winter, it’s the opposite. The best way to tell if a plant needs to be watered is to stick one finger into one inch of the soil – if it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Right saplings. Buy baby plants or shoots, not seeds. This helps faster and easier growth of herbs indoors. When you’re purchasing the plants, select those that have never been planted outdoors; changing the environment can be extremely harmful for the sapling.

HERBS THAT GROW INDOORS

Start with these four that are easily available at any nursery.

Basil. Plant three to four seedlings in a pot and water regularly. After a few weeks, transfer them to a bigger pot to provide more space for leaves to spring. When the plant is about two inches tall start to pluck leaves; this encourages it to grow faster.

Coriander. Sow seeds about half an inch into the soil and leave a gap of approximately six inches between each seed. Water every alternate day but do not overwater; you will have a fully-grown bush in a little over a week. February and March are considered the best months for growing coriander.

Curry Leaves. A curry leaf plant needs abundant sunlight so a window sill or your balcony will be ideal for it. Sow a three-inch long stem into the soil and water daily. It’s important to trim curry leaves regularly to make space for more to grow.

Lemongrass. Place a few stems in a jar with one to two inches of water. Change water every day till lemongrass grows about two inches tall and then transfer it to a pot. Keep the plant well hydrated. It grows better during the winter but can withstand summer if grown in minimal heat.

mini indoor herb garden in a box basil parsley chives rosemary

IFM PRO TIP

Feed organic fertilizers like fish emulsion or liquid seaweed to your herbs from time to time. Also, remember that you’re growing herbs for their leaves and not the flowers so find a fertilizer that doesn’t promote blooming



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