Expert Advice: 5 Tips for a Thriving Herb Garden
Conor Preston from Figaro’s Garden knows all the tricks for making your indoor garden grow—so your mojitos will never have to suffer again.
If you’ve inherited your mother’s green eyes, but not her green thumb, fear not—with Conor Preston‘s advice, you’ll be growing hulking herbs in no thyme. Spice up your decor and your food (plus drinks!) with a jolly green indoor herb garden.
1. A Place in the Sun
“Some plants, like parsley and cilantro, can tolerate lower light levels, but for the most part herbs will put on poor, spindly growth if they don’t get enough sun,” says Preston—so get those planters in as much sunlight as possible.
2. With the Seasons
Winter can be a tough time for some perennial herbs due to the combination of low light, dry air and low air circulation, so keep harvesting to a minimum. (But through the summer, freeze your bounty so you’ve got plenty extra.)
3. Salad Years
“Annual and biennial herbs often grow much more quickly than their perennial counterparts,” advises Preston, so do your homework before you go on a seed shopping spree. Basil, parsley and cilantro can all be grown quite quickly and easily from seed, but after planting perennials like rosemary or thyme from seed, it may be a couple of years before the plant is big enough for you to harvest any for cooking.
4. A Little Goes a Long Way
Using a water-soluble organic fertilizer during the growing season will really improve your harvest. Preston recommends fertilizing only when “plants are in active growth—and don’t exceed the recommended concentration or frequency of fertilization.” Also, be sure to use a free-draining potting mix—many culinary herbs appreciate a potting mix that doesn’t stay too wet between waterings.
5. Chop Chop
While Preston doesn’t recommend picking more than a third of the plant at a time, don’t be afraid to cut back individual stems relatively close to the base of the plant—if you cut just the very tips off, you’ll be left with a plant that is straggly and top-heavy. “Cut back a little harder,” says Preston, “and you’ll be rewarded with a plant that is bushier and more manageable.”