Whether you’ve been hesitant to start a garden before because you don’t think you have a green thumb or you think it’s too expensive, the good news is that there is hope. Even if you’ve never even successfully raised a cactus before, it is quite easy to start an indoor herb garden; and it needn’t break the bank. If you’re thinking of making your own edible garden on a budget, here are some suggestions for getting started…
Select Year-Round Plants
Herbs, like any kind of plant, have various growing seasons. To stretch your money the furthest, consider getting herbs that will grow year-round. Having a garden with herbs that grow throughout the year is also a great way to add fresh flavor and nutrients to your favorite dishes in all seasons, even in the middle of winter when you’re dealing with ice, snow, and bitter cold.
With the right conditions, you can keep many herbs growing for most of the year, if not all of it. However, there are still some herbs that are typically easier to start with than others. One of the simplest herbs to grow is basil. Like many herbs, basil is naturally a warm weather herb that likes plenty of sunlight and warmth. Therefore, it’s essential to put your basil in a sunny, south-facing window protected from the wind. Chives also do well indoors. In fact, you can even transplant chives from an outdoor garden at the end of the growing season to pots indoors. Oregano, parsley, and rosemary are other fragrant herbs that can easily be transplanted from an outdoor garden to indoor pots.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to get some herbs from the gardens of your friends, neighbours, and family members if you don’t have an outdoor garden yourself. You can dig up a small clump of one of these herbs and transplant it to a pot. With rosemary and oregano, you can even take a cutting from a mature herb and plant it in a pot to grow. This is an ideal method, as it doesn’t require digging up a garden. Either way, you’ll get to start a garden for free!
Buy Starter Plants
If you’re new to gardening, one of the most expensive parts of starting a herb garden can be getting your plants to grow in the first place. To avoid this expense, you can get a few starter plants to begin with instead of starting from scratch with seeds. Trying to raise plants from seedlings can be a challenge, and you can quickly spend a lot of money trying to replace seedlings that died. When you get your starter plants, you just need to follow their care instructions to keep them alive. Be sure to avoid over-watering the plants, as giving them too much water can cause the roots to rot. Fertilizing the herbs once a month will trigger new growth, which means that you can then start to use the herbs for cooking.
Choose the Right Pots
It might seem like a trivial issue but, having the right pots for your plants ensures that they grow as they are supposed to. Of all the kinds of pots you can get, terracotta pots are a top choice. You can plant several herbs in one container to cut down on the cost of pots if you so choose. Be sure to get pots that are at least between 15-30 centimetres deep so that the plants can grow properly. To make sure that the pots drain properly, select pots with holes in the bottom to let excess water escape. You can also keep a saucer under each pot to catch excess water as it drains out. For a cheaper alternative, it’s also possible to use old plastic soda bottles and milk jugs to start growing your plants, but there are a bunch of gardening ideas floating around. Be sure to wash them out thoroughly first and punch holes in the bottom to ensure that they have adequate drainage.
Use the Right Soil
Another key to growing herbs (and avoid wasting money on new ones) is to use the right kind of soil. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to get some starter soil if you’re planting an herb transplant or cutting from another person’s garden. But if this is not an option, you’re best off with a store-bought soil. Herbs are vulnerable to diseases, many of which can come from soil. While you don’t always know what elements the soil contains from a natural setting, store-bought soil will be more regulated. If you’re not sure what kind to get, ask a store employee for advice.
Put the Plants in a Sunny Place
When you’re starting an indoor herb garden, one of the most critical components of getting plants to grow is providing them with adequate sunlight. Buying artificial lighting for your plants can get expensive, but that is just where you can take advantage of natural sunlight. You should make sure that your plants can get at least 5-8 hours of sunlight each day, which can be accomplished most of the year through natural sunlight. Even in the darkest times of the year, most people can still give their plants at least a few hours’ worth of sunlight each day, which can be supplemented with artificial lighting when needed.
From getting herb trimmings and soil from your neighbours, to using household items for planters, there are many ways to successfully start an indoor herb garden on a budget. If all goes well, you will have a fresh, vibrant crop of herbs that can add fragrance, colour, and nutrients to your favourite dishes throughout the year.
About the Author: Kylie is the editor at Green & Growing. She enjoys the outdoors, especially when she can go on a fun hike or adventure. She likes to focus on the perks of green living. Kylie feels it is important to take care of our earth and hope to spread more awareness as she edits and writes.