When you are so used to cooking the same things, meals tend to feel monotonous. One of the best ways to change things up in the kitchen is to add fresh herbs. Not only do they have pungent flavor profiles, but they also usually come with added health benefits. Buying fresh herbs can get expensive, and they also tend to go bad if not used quickly, which is why so many of us use dried herbs. Instead, we are sharing our list of the easiest herbs to grow, their health benefits and how to get started.
First, let’s talk about the environment.
If you want to grow the best indoor garden, you need to ensure that the herbs will get sufficient sunlight. Most people tend to have a windowsill with adequate light in the kitchen, but if you do not, place your garden in any sunny room to grow. The ideal temperature would be 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit, and it would be good to give the room some ventilation daily.
What form should I plant them in?
Many common herbs grown indoors do better rooted from a cutting of an existing plant (except parsley, cilantro and dill). This technique is as easy as snipping a stem from a mature herb plant and putting the cutting in either a plant pot or water. Rooting in water works especially well for soft-stemmed herbs such as basil, mint, lemon balm, oregano and stevia. For woody herbs like rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme, take cuttings from new, green growth; older brown stems do not sprout roots easily.
Now, let’s discuss which herbs are best to grow and what nutritional benefits they provide.
Start basil from the seed and place the pots in a south-facing window as the plant likes lots of sun and warmth. Basil is loaded with nutrition and has been seen to help decrease inflammation, increase antioxidant consumption and even help those with diabetes. After finding this out, pesto is now our favorite superfood!
Also known as “cowboy cologne,” bay leaves grow well in containers all year round. Place the pot in an east- or west-facing window, but be sure that it does not get exposed to too much sunlight or heat. Bay leaves are usually simmered in food to add depth of herbal flavor, but they can also help those with gastrointestinal issues by decreasing gas and stimulating bile flow, great for both digestion and keeping a flat tummy post-meal!
If you already have a garden outdoors, dig up a clump of chives at the end of the growing season and pot it up. Leave the pot outside until all the leaves die. In early winter, move the pot to your coolest indoor spot (such as a basement) for a few days, and then finally move it to your brightest window. Chives can be snipped right from the plant and used in recipes. They have many nutritional benefits, supporting heart health in particular. One of the reasons why is because the plant contains high levels of quercetin, which may reduce the risk of plaque buildup in arteries.
Mint is good to grow in a pot, but be sure to give it its own pot for the best growth. Mint also needs plenty of water so make sure you water it well. Mint is one of our favorites to add to a glass of water to feel fancy, but it has also been seen as an aid for a sore throat.
Oregano is best harvested from an existing plant and grows betters in a south-facing spot. This popular Italian herb has potent antimicrobial properties and can help fight bacteria. This is especially true in the form of essential oils, so if you like to make your own essential oils, oregano would be a perfect one to make at home.
This is just a short list of herbs that grow well indoors, and they’re all easy to find and fit in your recipes. If you are unsure where to start, many stores carry potted plants that you can take home immediately. Trader Joe’s is one of our favorites, but you can also take a look at your local plant shop.