Fresh herbs can make your meal go from good to great. You don’t need to use a lot to get a nice flavor boost. Adding just a couple tablespoons of fresh herbs to a meal can make a big difference. I like adding fresh basil to jarred tomato sauce to make it taste homemade. On a hot day, adding mint to lemonade is a refreshing treat.
Buying fresh herbs doesn’t always fit into my budget, so I decided to grow my own instead! A wide variety of herbs can grow inside your home, for very little money. Did you know that you can use your FNS/SNAP benefits to start your indoor herb garden? FNS/SNAP benefits can be used to purchase food-producing seeds and plants. This includes fruits, vegetables, and edible herbs. Some herbs that grow well inside include chives, thyme, basil, parsley, rosemary, sage, oregano, and mint.
Here are some tips to help you start your herb garden:
- Finding a sunny location for your garden is very important. Most herbs need six hours of sunlight a day.
- Herbs grow best in cool temperatures, preferably below 70 degrees.
- Use containers that allow for drainage, such as pots with a hole in the bottom. You could also put stones in the bottom of a container to allow for drainage.
- Fertilize your herbs every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer.
When it’s time to harvest your herbs, you can use them fresh or preserve them to use throughout the year. Freezing and drying are two popular methods for preserving herbs.
- Freezer method: Spread herbs on a cookie sheet to freeze, and then transfer into a plastic freezer bag. You can also chop herbs and free in ice cube trays filled with water. Thawed herbs can be used in cooked dishes, such as soups or casseroles. Do no re-freeze thawed herbs.
- Drying method: Using string, tie the stems of herbs into small bundles. Hang upside to dry in a warm, dry, airy place, away from the sun. When the leaves are brittle and crumble easy, store in plastic or glass containers. Store in a cool, dry place.
If you’d like more detailed instructions about harvesting and preserving your herbs, read this article from NC State Extension. For more information on growing herbs indoors, check out these resources from the University of Illinois and Penn State University Cooperative Extension.