Using fresh herbs in your cooking is a fantastic way to spice up any meal.
The problem? Fresh herbs are expensive – around $2.00 for a small package. If you’re using multiple herbs in a single dish, the cost can add up quickly.
One way to bring down the cost of fresh herbs is to grow an indoor kitchen window herb garden. And now is the perfect time, as fresh herb seedlings are beginning to hit the stores.
Indoor Kitchen Window Herb Garden Cost Analysis
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For my new herb garden, I spent $36.07 total at Walmart. That includes:
- A window box planter – $8.86
- Potting soil – $3.97
- Mini chalkboard plant markers (2 packages from the craft section) – $2.97 each
- 5 herb seedlings (I bought sweet basil, thyme, Italian parsley, rosemary, and cilantro) – $3.58 each
The chalkboard markers are completely optional, so you could easily skip them, which brings down the cost considerably. They were just so cute, I had to use them! But you could easily get by using popsicle sticks or not using any markers at all.
A kitchen window herb garden is an up-front investment, but even with the cute chalkboard markers, I’ll break even on cost when I use my fresh herbs instead of the boxed variety just 18 times.
If you don’t use the chalkboard markers, you’ll break even after using your own herbs just 15 times – less if you already have a container on hand!
That’s a worthwhile investment if you use fresh herbs frequently.
Tips for Growing an Indoor Kitchen Window Herb Garden
Growing an indoor herb garden can be kind of tricky, but there are a few things you can do to insure your success.
1. Use a South or Southwest Facing Window
Your herb garden will do best in a place that receives at least four hours of sunshine a day. That means growing your herbs in a south or southwest facing window.
If your kitchen window does not get enough sunlight, you may have to move your garden to a different window or supplement the lighting with fluorescent lights.
2. Choose a Container that Drains Well
Plants that sit in lots of water are not happy plants. It’s important that the container you choose has good drainage.
If you’re using a pot without great drainage, add gravel to the container before you add the soil. This will help water drain away from the roots of the herbs, keeping the herbs happy. To see how to add gravel to your pot for proper drainage, check out Walmart’s container herb garden hack instructions.
3. Use Potting Mix, not Potting Soil
Because indoor herbs don’t like to be water logged, it’s better to plant them in a potting mix, which contains peat, perlite, sand, and other ingredients that let air and water circulate.
Potting soil is dirt-based, which is heavier and holds in too much water to keep potted herbs healthy.
4. Water Frequently
Even though potted herbs don’t like water collecting around their roots, they do need water. And because you are using a potting mix that doesn’t hold water well, you need to water frequently.
I water whenever the soil feels dry, which is sometimes as frequently as once a day. Your herbs will tell you if you are overwatering, because their leaves will begin to turn yellow. If you see yellow leaves, water less frequently.
5. Rotate Your Container Every Once in a While
Like any plant, your herbs love the sun. When you plant them in a window, they will begin to lean toward the sun.
If you rotate your container every once in a while, you will prevent your plants from leaning toward the window, and your herbs will be beautifully even.
6. Fertilize Monthly
A happy plant is a well fed plant. Herbs are no exception.
Fertilize your herbs monthly with a 15-15-15 liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength. That will ensure maximum herb growth, giving you more herbs for cooking!
7. Prune Frequently, but Carefully
You are planting an indoor kitchen window herb garden so you can use the herbs! And the great news is, you will have plenty of herbs on hand to use.
But there are a couple of rules to pruning your herbs:
- Prune no more than 1/3 of the plant at once.
- Pinch off a combination of old and new growth.
Don’t prune the largest leaves, as these are the plant’s solar panels.
It’s really not that difficult to keep an indoor kitchen window herb garden happy and healthy. And with a little up front investment, you can grow fresh herbs for cooking year round.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
- What are the benefits to gardening? (Podcast)
- Teaching Kids about Creation with Easy Container Gardening
- How to Plant a Garden Your Child will Love