The profusion of indoor plants on our Instagram and Facebook feeds has made most of us want to explore our gardening skills. For those curious enough to actually start growing plants, cultivating a herb garden is a good way to start.
Adrienne Thadani, co-founder of TH R I V E garden design studio and Fresh & Local, lists out the key factors to keep in mind before running out for supplies.
1. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SPACE
Your supplies will depend on whether you wish to use a windowsill, balcony, terrace or airy nook in the house. “We encourage people to start out with their sunniest window; plants can be kept outside on the window grill. Otherwise building rooftops (if you can get permission) provide a great deal of space with access to full sunlight,” says Adrienne.
When you’re starting out, you want to make things easy on yourself, start small, select the area with the most sunlight, try to be close to a water tap, and keep the plants somewhere easily accessible so you will see them daily.
2. HERE COMES THE SUN
“The space you choose should get at least four hours of sunlight”, says Adrienne. You should also keep in mind how easy it will be to water the herbs. “When you’re starting out, you want to make things easy on yourself, so start small, select the area with the most sunlight, try to be close to a water tap, and keep the plants somewhere easily accessible so you will see them daily,” she suggests.
Pick herbs that are both easily available and easy to grow such as pudina.
3. STAY DOWN TO EARTH
The better the soil, the more likely your chance of success. “Soil for most herbs should be well-draining and nutrient rich. We want the soil to retain moisture, but not have too much water,” says Adrienne adding, “We make sure there is a lot of compost mixed with dry leaves, coco soil, neem, sand and natural liquid fertilizers in our soil. We continue to add compost and mulch regularly, keeping the soil alive and happy.”
4. HAVE YOU HERB ABOUT IT?
Pick herbs that are both easily available and easy to grow. Adrienne recommends lemongrass, pudina and other mints such as spearmint, and different varieties of basil like Italian basil, sweet basil, Thai basil and tulsi. Keep in mind that when you start out, it is easier to grow from seedlings rather than planting seeds.
5. TEST THE WATERS
A lot of factors play into how much you need to water your plants—the type of plant, amount of sunlight it receives and the season. The trick is to observe the plant and check the soil daily so that you are only watering as needed. “It’s good for the soil to dry out just a little bit. This encourages the plants to send the roots out in search of water, making the plant stronger and healthier,” says Adrienne. “Pay attention to your plants, regular observation is key to understanding what’s working and what isn’t.”
6. LET IT GROW
Pruning is an equally important step for healthy herbs. Make your first trim approximately 3.5 to 4 inches above the soil and just above a set of growing leaves. Make sure that the shoot has a few strong leaves left on it. As the herb grows, trim it every 3 to 4 inches. When picking leaves to use, pluck the newer ones from the top and leave the stronger ones at the bottom alone. And be sure to cut off the flower buds so that the plant can focus on growing leaves rather than flowers.
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