I love the summer growing season. However, what I especially love about my herb garden is that I can enjoy it all year round. There is something very special about having fresh herbs and spices growing on the windowsill to snip for my pesto, salads, and smoothies. I derive great pleasure from watching them grow and smelling their fresh fragrance. If you have limited or no outdoor garden space, an indoor herb garden is the perfect solution for the hungry gardener.
I grow mint, basil, parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, nasturtium, Aloe Vera, ginger, turmeric, hot pepper, and cherry tomatoes. I love the freshness of freshly cut herbs and appreciate them for their numerous health benefits in an anti-cancer diet.
Benefits of an Indoor Herb Garden
Plants tend to lose their cancer-fighting benefits the longer they’re separated from their roots, so it’s ideal to pick herbs fresh and use them immediately in your cuisine.
Then there’s the emotional aspect. When you’re growing plants to use in your food, there is a special purpose and a completed cycle. There is also a connection to life that is personally fulfilling… the excitement when the seed produces its first leaves and then develops the flowers and finally the fruit. You just can’t wait to taste the fruit of your labor − literally.
Furthermore, the flavor of homegrown organic herbs is superior to supermarket produce so your meals have an added zing that is incomparable flavor and health-wise.
How to Plan & Grow Your Own Indoor Herb Garden
So, what do you need to get started?
- Make a plan of what you want to grow (see below for some plant suggestions).
- Choose a windowsill in a sunny location (south or southwest exposure for six consecutive hours in the day is best).
- Choose the types of pots you would like to use − hanging or windowsill ledge or both.
- You will also need to find an organic plant nursery, plant food, a table, newspaper, and a day or two to accomplish the task.
I go to the organic nursery and pick out the plants that I want to grow. I buy potting soil, compost, humus, organic plant food, pots or window boxes, plant hangers, and a misting bottle.
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Putting Your Herb Garden Together
- After you get home with your purchases, gather some pebbles or small rocks to put in the base of the planters and hanging pots. Fill the bottom of each plantar/pot with a single layer of stones. This helps with drainage.
- Next, mix the soil in a bucket with one part each of compost, potting soil, and humus. (Note: You can also buy some potting soils that already combine all of these elements). Add the soil mixture to the planters, pots, and hanging pots you’ve selected.
- Water all the plants thoroughly, allow them to drain, and make a hole in the potting soil mixture for each plant.
- Place the plants in the planters and press firmly around the base of the plant and soil to set them in the planter.
- Wipe off the pots and planters and place them on the windowsill and/or install the triangular wall brackets for the hanging plants and put them on the hooks.
Ideas for What to Grow in Your Indoor Herb Garden
If you need a little inspiration, here is how I set up my own windowsill herb garden and why I choose these particular herbs and plants:
Mint is very easy to grow and goes well in a salad, smoothie, for garnishes, and many other culinary uses. It also adds a nice fragrance to the room and the flowers can be eaten for their trace minerals. There are several varieties available, but they all have similar flavors and health benefits.
Basil is important for pesto and complementing the spices in various dishes. It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and tension soothing components. The aroma is very pleasant and relaxing as well.
Parsley is also nice in a window box so you might want to grow several plants and keep plenty on hand. It has many health benefits especially in salads and smoothies. Parsley is a great detoxifier and helps restore the alkaline balance in the body.
Oregano has many health benefits including immune boosting and cancer cell retarding properties. It will continue to grow all year long indoors so you can use it in many recipes. I like to give it a pot alone.
Thyme, sage, and rosemary are compatible in a box planter on the windowsill. Thyme is available in several varieties and is mostly used in salads, soups, and meat dishes. Sage is used in similar ways but is also good in tea for increasing brain function and its calming effects.
Rosemary is a nice herb for many uses in cooking, green smoothies, and aromatherapy. When you inhale the rosemary fragrance it clears your mind so it is easier to focus your thoughts.
Additionally, mint, sage, and rosemary are all high in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial components.
Cilantro is excellent for digestion and heavy metal detoxification. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, an internal deodorizer, and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It has a unique flavor that compliments many dishes including salad recipes, pesto, gazpacho, and guacamole. Its seeds (coriander) are very aromatic as well.
Nasturtium plants can be potted and hung from a hook made for hanging from the ceiling or wall triangle. They are beautiful flowers that come in several colors. Both the flower and leaves are edible with a spicy peppery taste that adds variety, trace minerals, and beauty to many dishes.
Nasturtium can be grown from seed or plants but you must be very careful in transferring the plants to a pot as the roots are very tender. A rich soil will produce more leaves and a poor soil produces more flowers. The flowers and leaves are concentrated with vitamin C, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Nasturtium also heals infections of the throat and intestines while increasing blood circulation.
Aloe Vera is a plant that grows best in a pot on the windowsill or a plant stand near the window. This is because the spiky leaves can spread which may be too wide for the windowsill. Aloe Vera is a very important plant used for healing the skin from burns, blemishes, and scars. The inner gel is excellent to add to your smoothies (the flavor is unnoticeable) and it heals your internal tissues.
This is great if you have some damage from radiation therapy or chemo-induced tissue damage. So you want to plant more than one to be growing abundantly for daily or weekly use. Aloe is also very easy to grow and it will reproduce itself without any intervention.
Ginger (local ginger from a quality organic shop) can be placed in a glass with a toothpick going through the upper center. It should be balanced on the glass so the ginger is stable and the base is in the water to produce roots. Once the root hairs have formed the ginger can be put into the soil in a pot to develop its leaves and become a plant. After several months you can harvest some of the root while allowing the plant to continue growing.
Turmeric is cultivated in much the same way as ginger. It can also be placed directly in a pot of soil and watered regularly until the green shoots come up. Turmeric is an important anti-cancer spice and is a liver and blood purifier. It is rich in antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial, and compliments almost everything − so it’s good to have plenty on hand.
Cherry tomatoes are nice to grow and pick fresh for your salads, casseroles, or just to snack on. They should be grown in a pot with a stick in the center to give the bush support when the tomatoes begin to develop. The pot can go on the windowsill, but a plant stand is also good depending on the depth of your windowsill. These small tomatoes are rich in lycopene which is a very important anti-cancer nutrient.
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Make Fresh Herbs Part of Your Anti-Cancer Diet
This exercise should be fun for you and your family to do together. It will be very rewarding when you are able to pick the herbs and tomatoes and flowers and use them in your food. If you do have outdoor space for a garden, you can follow many of these same steps. Although herbs aren’t hardy in cold temperatures, plants can be brought indoors and overwintered in your sunniest window − for your year-round enjoyment.
It may look a little intimidating, but once you get started you will find it’s not as difficult as it sounds. If you feel overwhelmed, it may help to invite some gardening friends to do it with you. I like to have planting parties where several of my gardening friends get together on a morning or afternoon. We have tea and snacks while we get our hands dirty and generally make a mess.
However, we have a lot of fun getting excited about labeling the plants, making the pots, and putting the seedlings or baby plants in their pots. We move along watering and placing them on the windowsills, and hanging them from the wall or ceiling. It is well worth the time spent when you see the plants growing and you smell the fresh herbs.
You can delight in knowing you can clip them and mix them up for your recipes and teas. Drying them at the end of the growing season is also a great way to incorporate more herbs into your diet.
After you consume the fruits you should save the seeds for future planting. Some gardeners have seeds that have been handed down from generation to generation. These seeds are referred to as heirloom seeds. Then there are those special plants that you want to preserve and grow again because the fruit was especially good.
Always choose non-GMO seeds that have a high germination rate. Keep it as simple as possible at first and plant the seeds for plants that you know you will use on a regular basis. I have listed some suggestions but you should go for the ones that are the most useful (and delicious) to you. The plants will re-oxygenate your air and most will remove toxins from your indoor environment. Although plants serve more than one purpose… eating them is the most fun!
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