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Delicious herbs can add some zest to your cooking, so why not grow your own indoors? Herbs are generally sun-worshipers and will thrive in the right combination of sunlight and a little help from artificial light. Flavourful herbs take no more time and effort to grow than a regular houseplant once you find the right spot for your indoor herb garden.
Choose which herbs you want to grow -- ones that you will use in your favourite recipes. Some easy choices to get you started include chives, dill, basil, parsley and sage.
Herbs don't tolerate north-facing windows well. Find a sunny spot in a south-facing situation if possible. Herbs need about four hours of daily sunshine plus a little help from supplementary lighting. Grow lights are inexpensive and can help your herbs flourish. You'll be able to tell if your garden is getting adequate light because the plant's leaves will clue you in. High-light leaves are thick, strong and narrow. Lower-light leaves look more delicate, and are thinner and broader.
Herbs require excellent drainage -- especially during the winter months. When herb roots are confined to a pot or planter, water and air cannot move easily. To improve the drainage without sacrificing soil nutrients, add sharp sand to a good sterilised compost-based mix. Supplementary plant feedings of liquid fertilizer or organic fish emulsion once a week when plants are actively growing will help them thrive. Water less often, but thoroughly -- only when the soil feels dry. When watering make sure that the water is able to drain properly -- it should come out of the bottom of the pot.
Herbs are susceptible to pests: spider mites, aphids, mealy bugs and scale insects so keep an eye on your plants. If these tiny pests are present you can dip the entire above-ground part of the plant into a pail of insecticidal soap, swishing to cover the leaves. This treatment, performed weekly for up to a month, will clear up the problem.
For some herbs, the air inside our homes is too dry, especially during the winter months. Additional moisture can be provided by misting the herbs or setting the pots on a tray full of pebbles with water poured into it. As the water in the tray naturally evaporates it is adding needed humidity around the plants. Keep refilling the tray and you'll notice the herbs perk up and look healthier. Don't place the herb pots too near high-heat sources like ovens and fireplaces, or in areas where they could freeze, such as on a screened porch. Herbs will do well in normal room temperatures provided you give them the light and the moisture that they crave.