Freshness at it's Best


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So my challenge today is creating an indoor herb garden. I love the thought of growing my own fresh herbs for cooking. We have all bought them fresh from the grocery store but imagine having them available anytime. Adding fresh chives to your morning omelet, or how about some fresh basil with tomato for some luncheon bruschetta, well I think you get the idea. Are we ready to dig in? Yes, pun intended.

​ ​​Tomato and Herb Bruschetta ​Tomato and Herb Bruschetta 2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 tsp. dried. 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil. 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar. 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice. 6 slices crusty bread, grilled or toasted. 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil. 1 1/2 lbs. ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped. 1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
Getting Started

Herbs are easy to grow with ample morning sunshine, keeping up on their water intake and misting, ensuring they are placed in containers that allow for drainage, and a little fertilizer or compost.  Like most plants, herbs do prefer to be planted outside so they can thrive, some plants getting as big as 3-4 feet. However, with the proper TLC and attention, they will do wonderfully in your home.

Make sure you are buying healthy plants, giving you a nice starting point for your project. You can also start your herbs from seeds. My choice when starting from a seed is an empty, used egg carton. My local grocery store sells 30 large eggs in a clear, covered container. I like this the most because it creates a mini greenhouse effect. However, there are other great choices, shown below to start your seeds.

You will want to watch that your herbs are getting enough light. Signs to watch for would be leaves that are smaller than usual and leaves or stems that are yellowing or pale.

If you find that your home doesn’t provide adequate sunlight, you can place them under a grow light. This mimics direct sunlight and is a great solution to provide extra light.

Next, you need to decide which herbs you would enjoy cooking with, and what would fit your needs or your style of cooking? 
MATERIALS containers (with drainage holes and waterproof saucers) herb seeds and/or plants potting soil or soil-less seed-starting mix stones / marbles inspiration

Creative Seed Starters Top Culinary Herbs Perfect for Your Indoor Herb Garden Culinary Herbs Developed Enough for Transfer
​The Right Container & Soil

Now that you have decided on the herbs you would like to grow and work with, let's get that garden started. I am going to go thru the steps here with the assumption you already have developed plants. (If you used the method of starting from seed, do not transfer until they are developed enough for the transfer to a permanent larger container.)

​TIP: Make sure each herb has its own container. This allows you to take care of each one individually as not all herbs are the same.

There are many different containers and ways you can create this indoor garden. It’s all a matter of preference.

Make sure you are choosing the right container. Herbs like water, but too much will cause root rot and mildew problems. Stones or marbles under the soil will protect the roots from rotting. Also, while watering, do so slowly as this will help the water to not go directly thru the pot leaving the soil still dry.

​Once you have chosen the container for your herb we can start filling the containers with a good potting soil. I typically will use Miracle Gro for Vegetable & Herbs. I don’t have a very green thumb so I need all the help I can get.  Add enough water to the potting soil by mixing in a little water at a time until the soil feels damp all the way through. Please make sure you are doing this in an area you don’t mind getting a little messy. Make sure the area is easy to clean up and can withstand getting wet. I don’t want to see you ruin your good tables or any other area from the water.  I always place newspapers or an old sheet under my work-space so the clean-up is that much easier.

Fill the bottom of each pot with 3/4-inch gravel, then fill completely with soil. Dig a hole in the soil large enough for your plant to fit into. Remove the seedling from its plastic nursery container and set into planting hole. Gentle press down the soil around the plant. 
Simple Potting Ideas for Your Indoor Herb Garden Location, Location, Location
Select a location that is best for your herbs. Herbs like light and morning sunlight is great. I try to make sure the location I choose gets about 4-6 hours of morning light. A south facing window is ideal if you are able to do this. Also, in between your watering cycle, make sure you are taking time to mist the herbs to keep them from getting dry.

I find the herbs have been much easier to maintain and keep alive than most house plants I have tried. As long as you can provide a container that allows for drainage, good soil, proper sun and misting, and some good old TLC, your herb garden should thrive. I haven’t killed mine yet (knock on wood) and the flavor difference in your cooking is well worth the efforts you put into this challenge.

​ Herbs like light and morning sunlight is great. Drying The Herbs Hang Dry the Herbs ​

​Hang Drying
Tie sprigs or branches into small bunches as larger bunches could develop mold or easily become discolored. Hang the bundles anywhere you have the space or wouldn’t mind a little decoration for about 10-12 days. Do not cover in any bagging; this could also create a mold on the branches. Oven Dried Fennel ​

​Oven Drying
If you are really in a rush and need to have the herbs for tonight’s dinner you can have them ready in about an hour. Set your oven to the lowest possible temperature with the door remaining open. Place your herbs on a tray in the oven making sure to turn them after 30 minutes. Rack Dried Sage ​

​Rack Drying
You can cut the time of drying down to 2 or 3 days by drying the branches individually on racks. Keep the racks in a warm spot but out of direct sunlight. Make sure you are turning them often to keep the drying process even. Taste Your Rewards
When you are ready (or I should say when the plants are ready), usually when they are about 6”-8” in height, remove about 1/4 to 1/3 of the branches. Make sure you are cutting them by the leaf intersection. By doing this you are insuring that your plants will begin to regrow. Enjoy the reward of all your work. Harvesting your own tea is also a great reward for the efforts.

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