The use of herbs can elevate your cooking and make most of your dishes tastier. Herbs not only add flavor to your foods, they have wonderful medicinal properties and several health benefits too.
Herbs can be used both in their fresh and dried forms. Although, in terms of color, flavor and nutrient content fresh herbs are much better than dried ones. You may not be able to find fresh herbs in the market all year round but you can grow your own little herb garden for a continued supply of your favorite herbs.
It can be quite a challenge to grow vegetables and fruits all year long and they also need plenty of light and space. However, it is very simple to set up your small herb garden in whatever little space you have. You can use hydroponics to grow your herb garden indoors at home and this is the best way to make sure that you have a fresh supply of your favorite herbs throughout the year.
What Is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a form of hydroculture and is essentially soil-less gardening, where plants are grown without using the conventional soil medium and use a mineral-rich water solution instead, which provides nutrition to the plants. In this form of gardening, the plants require water, particular nutrients and sunlight for growth.
How to Grow Your Indoor Hydroponic Herb Garden
What You Need
- Cuttings of the herbs you want to grow
- Colored glass or plastic bottles or jars for each of your cuttings
Procedure to Grow Your Indoor Hydroponic Herb Garden
- Prepare your herb cuttings into 5-6-inch sections by removing all the lower leaves and branches, as they will rot in the water.
- You must select colored or dark bottles to grow your herbs. The darker the bottle or the jar, the better it is as the roots of the herbs must not be exposed to any kind of light. Another way of protecting the roots from light is to wrap paper around the bottle. Any light will encourage the growth of algae in the bottle and on the roots.
- Select the containers for the herbs with wide necks so that the plants have enough space to grow and they are not suffocated.
- Fill fresh water into the containers and then fill them to around 80% and place one herb cutting into each jar. Make sure that the stem is submerged well in the water. Using spring water for your herbs is a good idea as it has a very high mineral content. Avoid using chlorinated water, as the chemical will damage the plant tissues.
- Place the jars with the herb cutting in an area that receives plenty of light and fresh air, such as a window ledge.
- Depending on the type of herb, the roots will start developing after 2-5 weeks.
- The water of the herbs with woody stems must be changed once a week until the roots begin to grow. Once the roots start developing, you should leave the plants without disturbing the water.
You can grow your herb garden from full plants with roots or you can use trimmed stems. You can start your herb garden with plants already in your garden or even using perennial herbs bought from grocery stores. If you are using store-bought herbs for your herb garden, then make sure that you cut the stem at the bottom to help them absorb more water. When the leaves grow to full size, clip them. This encourages more leaves to be produced at the top. This also allows the stem to grow for several months. Here are some of the herbs that can be grown in water all year long.
Herbs That Can Be Grown in Water
Basil is an essential herb commonly used in Italian and Asian cuisines. Basil is very easy to grow in water. You can grow the stem by cutting it from the plant before it produces flowers. Basil is rich in antioxidants and has anticancer, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties and consuming basil can help to regulate blood sugar and it is also good for heart health.
This aromatic herb is a popular ingredient widely used in Italian cuisine and is very easy to grow indoors in water. Pinching the leaves from the top helps to stimulate the growth of new leaves. Oregano is rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals and has analgesic, antiviral, antifungal, antitumor, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Rosemary is a herb that has thick semi-woody stems that take time to grow roots. Rosemary flourishes very well when it gets plenty of sunlight. This fragrant herb has a savory and sharp taste that is more flavorsome when fresh rather than when it is used in the dried form. Rosemary is popularly used to flavor stews, soups, as a garnish or a meat rub. Rosemary can help to improve cognitive function and memory, promote hair growth and regulate blood sugar.
Lemon balm belongs to the mint family and acts as a mosquito repellent too. If you are growing this herb indoors in water, make sure that you change the water once a week in order to prevent the root from rotting. Lemon balm helps to improve digestion, heals colds and sores. Lemon balm is used commonly to prepare herbal tea.
Peppermint is a hardy herb that adds wonderful flavor to savory desserts and salads. It contains menthol that provides a cooling effect on the tongue and skin. Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow and just a few cuttings propagate very quickly. Mint tends to spread out when grown in an outdoor garden. Therefore, growing it indoor can help to keep it from spreading wildly and choking the other plants in the garden. Consuming peppermint can help to relieve stress, reduce a headache, soothe the symptoms of IBS and keep mice and spiders away from your home too.
Spearmint is a herb that also belongs to the mint family and is a natural hybrid of peppermint. It has a milder flavor when compared to peppermint. Spearmint has many health benefits. It can help to balance sex hormones and has anti-androgen effects in women with polycystic ovaries.
Sage is a savory herb that grows very quickly. Just taking a few sprigs from the outdoor plant and placing them in shallow water will cause the plant to sprout roots very quickly. Allow plenty of space for the sage to grow and place it in a bright, well-aerated spot as it is quite prone to mildew. Also, keep the leaves away from water or they will rot. Consuming sage can help to alleviate menopause symptoms, improve memory and relieve anxiety.
Tarragon is a versatile herb that belongs to the same family as marigold and sunflower. This mild-flavored herb grows very well when placed in a warm spot with plenty of sun. French tarragon is suitable for culinary purposes, while the Russian variety is best when used in salads. Consuming tarragon can help to treat metabolic syndrome, it helps to regulate blood sugar and the herb has antibacterial properties.
In recent years, stevia is becoming very popular as a natural sweetener. When buying stevia from the store, it’s a good idea to buy the organic variety, as it free from pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Using your own home grown stevia is the best option. Stevia grows well when you put it in a warm spot. Studies show that consuming stevia can help you kick your smoking habit.
Thyme is grown from cuttings that are taken from the parent plant before it produces flowers and thyme must be kept moist to prevent its leaves from drying out. Pruning the plant helps to promote new growth. Thyme contains the phytochemical, thymol, that helps to lower blood pressure, ease stomach problems, destroy cancer cells, prevent tooth decay and it also has antibacterial properties.
Growing herbs at home in water is very simple and can be fun too. Having a herb garden at home can give you a fresh and endless supply of your favorite herbs that can boost the taste of your cooking to gourmet proportions.