As the leaves turn to amber and the warmth of summer recedes, many gardening enthusiasts in the UK tend to assume their green-fingered duties are over until spring. But little do they realise that October heralds a season of opportunity, especially for herb lovers. This is the prime time to embark on creating an indoor herb sanctuary. Let’s journey into the verdant world of October herb planting.
Why Start in October?
October, with its dropping temperatures, allows certain herbs to germinate without the stress of sweltering summer heat. Additionally, starting now ensures a lush green indoor space, a vibrant counterpoint to the often grey winter days, and guarantees fresh flavours on your plate through the chilly months.
- Profile: Coriander, known for its zesty taste, is a staple in many cuisines.
- Sowing: Start with a deep pot as coriander has long roots. Use a free-draining compost and sprinkle the seeds thinly. Water with a fine spray to keep the soil moist, not wet.
- Positioning: Ensure it’s placed in a bright, cool location. A north-facing windowsill is often ideal.
- Harvesting Tip: For a continuous supply, sow seeds every 2 weeks.
Parsley (Flat-leaf or Curly)
- Profile: Parsley is versatile, with a vibrant green hue and fresh taste.
- Sowing: Soak seeds for quicker germination. Use pots at least 6 inches deep and sow seeds 3 inches apart.
- Positioning: It can tolerate a bit of shade but prefers bright, indirect light.
- Harvesting Tip: The more you harvest, the more it grows. So, nip it regularly!
- Profile: With a delicate aniseed flavour, chervil is a gourmet favourite.
- Sowing: Post soaking, sow seeds 2 inches apart in a pot that’s at least 8 inches deep.
- Positioning: A cool spot with partial shade is perfect.
- Harvesting Tip: Gently snip leaves, ensuring you don’t disturb its central rosette.
- Profile: A variation of the summer favourite, it’s spicier and ideal for winter cultivation.
- Sowing: Use a pot with a minimum depth of 7 inches. Sow seeds 2 inches apart.
- Positioning: This basil craves sunlight. A south-facing windowsill works best.
- Harvesting Tip: Pinch off the growing tip once the plant reaches about 6 inches in height for a bushier growth.
Creating the Perfect Indoor Herb Garden:
1. Lighting: Invest in a good quality grow light for areas where natural sunlight is scanty. These lights replicate the sun’s spectrum and ensure steady growth.
2. Watering Wisdom: Overwatering is a common mistake. Always check the soil’s moisture by touching it. Water only when the top inch feels dry. (Overwatered? Check out our what to do to save an overwatered plant guide)
3. Humidity Hacks: Group plants together. This creates a microenvironment with higher humidity. Alternatively, invest in a room humidifier.
4. Feed and Nourish: A balanced, water-soluble fertiliser is essential. Feed every two weeks. Remember: it’s better to underfeed than overfeed.
5. Pests and Problems: Watch out for aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. If you notice any, a solution of soapy water sprayed on the plant usually does the trick.
6. Rotation: Plants lean into light. Rotate them once a week to ensure even growth.
Why is October an ideal month for starting an indoor herb garden in the UK?
October offers dropping temperatures, allowing certain herbs to germinate without the summer heat stress. Plus, it sets you up for a lush indoor green space during the winter months.
Which other herbs are suitable for indoor cultivation?
While coriander, parsley, chervil, and ‘Christmas Basil’ are highlighted, herbs like mint, oregano, thyme, and rosemary can also thrive indoors properly.
How often should I water my indoor herbs?
This varies by herb and household conditions. However, a general rule is to water when the top inch of soil feels dry. Overwatering can lead to root rot.
Do indoor herbs require fertilisation?
Yes. Indoor herbs benefit from regular feeding with a balanced, water-soluble fertiliser every two weeks.
What type of potting mix is best for indoor herbs?
A free-draining compost or potting mix formulated for containers works best. Ensure it’s of high quality to provide the herbs with necessary nutrients.
Can I transplant herbs grown outdoors to the inside during colder months?
While it’s possible, it can stress the plant. It’s better to start fresh indoors. If transplanting, inspect for pests and acclimate the plant gradually to its new environment.
In conclusion, creating an indoor herb garden starting in October is more than a gardening venture; it’s a culinary adventure and a therapeutic endeavour. The aroma of fresh herbs, the satisfaction of harvesting, and the joy of adding home-grown flavour to your dishes make this journey immensely rewarding. Happy indoor gardening!