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Grow an Herb Garden This Winter

Thursday, November 29, 2018 | by Scott Bennett

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” here in Salt Lake City, Utah. Skis and gloves are flying out of stores and some valley snow from our first storm is lingering in patches on rooftops and on grass. More and more, people are thinking about hot chocolate and Christmas lights instead of plants and gardening. However, as fun as winter activities can be, many of us still need to feel a connection to growing things. Some of us feel trapped by winter pollution and cloudy days. You might be missing being outside in your garden. This time of year, there is not a lot of landscaping in Salt Lake City.

Growing an indoor herb garden may be just what you need to help with winter doldrums. Herb gardens are terrific indoor gardens and can be a lot of fun. Herbs are inexpensive and easy to grow successfully. They clean the air and bring beauty to any room. Here are some simple strategies to growing an herb garden this winter.

  1. Choose your pots carefully. Herbs grow best in their own pot. Don’t try to combine several types of herbs into one large pot. Herbs have different needs and with them in different pots, you can move them, change how you water, or do a number of things to fix a problem. This would be much harder with several herbs in one pot.

  2. Choose pots with good drainage. Herbs need to dry out between waterings. Their roots will grow deeper, searching for water, with a draining pot. They don’t grow as well with water pooling in the bottom of a pot. Use a saucer underneath to catch excess water.

    Another reason to have good drainage is that indoor pots can have a build-up of salt from tap water and from fertilizer. If you start to see a white residue on a pot, then clean out your pot by running water slowly through the pot until it is draining out the bottom. For healthy plants, you may want to do this every few months.

  3. Plant herbs with potting mix. Using the right soil is actually really important. Do not use soil from your garden. Often it is too clay-ish. In the indoor environment, good drainage is key to healthy plants. Potting mix is even lighter than potting soil. Get the lightest mix you can.

  4. Avoid over watering your plants. Yes, plants need to be watered, but it is too easy to water them every day, or every time you walk by. The healthiest plants are watered 2-3 times a week. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

  5. Keep your house an even temperature. Herbs grow best when the indoor environment is between 60 and 70 degrees, which is an easy temperature to maintain during the winter months.

  6. Give your herbs light. This is the most important factor in having healthy plants. Plants need 6-8 hours of light a day. Did you know that the amount of light herbs get can affect their flavor? Put your pots in your sunniest window sill. If you don’t have a wide enough sill, then move a small table in front of a window to put your plants on. Another option you may not have considered is a small suction-cup shelf that you suction to a sunny window. If you feel that the natural light in your house isn’t good enough, you can find inexpensive plant lights online and at your local nurses.

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