There is nothing more satisfying than growing your own food. For many who live in more northern climes, though, that is inevitably difficult during the winter season unless you have a greenhouse handy in your backyard.
Luckily, all is not lost; despite the snowbanks, you can grow fresh herbs all winter long in the comfort of your home.
I enjoy cooking, and I love using fresh herbs. So what could be better than an indoor herb garden? You will save money on herbs, and let’s be honest—fresh herbs taste that much better than dried herbs. So to get you started, here are some tips for growing your own indoor herb garden in the winter months.
How to Grow Indoor Herbs
All you need is a small pot or container and enough sunlight or light for the herbs to grow. Consider using a wider window ledge or place a table near the window where you can set your winter herb garden. To get started, here are a few tips:
- Choose a small pot—ideally six to 12 inches in length, so the roots can grow.
- Place your herb garden in front of the sunniest window in the house. For me, it’s the kitchen, but for you, it might be the den. The herbs need at least five or six hours of sunlight every day to grow, so keep that in mind when choosing the window. If you’re in a pinch, you could use a lamp, but nothing beats natural sunlight.
- Multiple herbs can be planted in one container.
- Remember to water the soil on a regular basis and use a drainage system in order to avoid overwatering/drowning your herbs. For proper and easy drainage, choose a container that has holes in the bottom and place a metal, plastic, or rubber saucer below the container to catch the excess water. A liner or drain pan can also be used.
Top Herbs to Grow Indoors This Winter for Better Health
Herbs aren’t just meant to taste good, though; they also contain many healing properties. Here are some medicinal herbs that I enjoy and are good candidates for growing indoors as well:
Cilantro is known to grow very quickly once planted indoors, and when you harvest cilantro, it will not continue to grow. You will need to plant a few separate pots of cilantro throughout the winter.
Cilantro is known for its ability to help your body excrete heavy metals, such as aluminum, mercury, or lead. It also contains antibiotic compounds that can prevent foodborne illness. Cilantro is perfect for pestos or as an addition to dressings, guacamole, salsa, beans, chicken, or seafood for flavor.
Parsley is an herb that thrives inside a container, but it doesn’t transplant well, so it’s best to use parsley seeds in your container. For best results, place your seeds on the soil then cover with additional soil.
Parsley is known to help with digestive problems, kidney function, and blood pressure control, and it contains anti-inflammatory properties. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. It also known as a “chemoprotective” herb, meaning it can help fight back against cancerous tumors. Parsley is perfect for salads or soups, or as a seasoning for your chicken or fish.
Oregano is a herb that can keep on growing for two years; harvesting leaves encourages more oregano to grow.
Oregano is helpful for many health conditions, such as fatigue, allergies, colds, headaches, lung problems, skin issues, muscle pain, and cancer. Oregano is best for sauces, and can be added to nearly any type of Italian cuisine. I also add it to soups for flavor. Greek oregano, in particular, is excellent for Mediterranean cooking, and it grows from seed to plant in seven to 21 days.
When you grow rosemary indoors, the soil should never be dry, so be sure to regularly add water to its container.
Rosemary is the best herb to protect you from radiation damage, especially from cellphones and Wi-Fi signals. Rosemary is known to help digestive issues, hypertension, headaches, gout, immunity, and memory problems. Rosemary is an herb known to maximize nutrients and flavor when you add it at the halfway point of the cooking process. It tastes good in soups, tomato sauces, omelets, and frittatas. You can also use it to season your lamb or chicken.
Peppermint seeds should be planted an eighth-inch below the soil. This herb enjoys dry soil, so it does not require much watering. If you’re planning on growing both peppermint and rosemary, due to their differences in how often they need to be watered, it’s best to plant them in separate containers.
Peppermint is a great herb for tea, and it is effective against digestive problems, tuberculosis, respiratory problems, allergies, memory issues, stress, radiation damage, headaches, and prostate cancer. Peppermint can also be added to soups, gazpacho, and fruit salad.
What Other Herbs Can Be Grown Indoors?
Your herb garden shouldn’t end with these five top herbs. Other herbs you can grow indoors include sage, mint, dill, chives, lemon balm, marjoram, thyme, Vietnamese coriander, and creeping savory.
Two herbs that are best suited for your spring outdoor herb garden are basil and garden cress. When growing these herbs outside, they should prosper in the warmer spring and summer months, but you won’t be able to harvest them after the first frost or snowfall.
The best winter month for growing herbs indoors is February—it might still be cold, but the sun is brightest, so get preparing now for some delicious cooking and fresh herbs.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Louis, P.F., “Medicinal herb garden – What to grow and how to keep it growing all winter,” Natural News web site, November 26, 2014; http://www.naturalnews.com/047801_herb_garden_winter_season_medicinal_herbs.html.
Mateljan, G., The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the healthiest way of eating (Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007), 694–695, 712–713, 714–715.
“What Are the Health Benefits of Oregano?” Mercola.com web site, February 1, 2014; http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/01/oregano-health-benefits.aspx, last accessed January 19, 2015.
Richter, C., “Growing Herbs Indoors,” Richters web site; https://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=MagazineRack/Articles/GrowingHerbsIndoors.html, last accessed January 19, 2015.
“Top Fresh and Dried Herbs and Spices for Antioxidants,” Eating Well web site; http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/top_fresh_and_dried_herbs_and_spices_for_antioxidants, last accessed January 19, 2015.