Harvesting and Storing
How to Dry Herbs
Many herbs are easily preserved by drying, and hold their flavor well when dry. Simply cut a handful of stems and rubber band them or tie them together with a piece of string, then hang them upside down in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, with good air circulation. When the herbs are completely dry and crumble easily between your fingers, place them in jars and store them in a cool, dry pantry or herb cabinet. Avoid storing herbs over the stove where heat and moisture will affect them. Some folks like to leave small bundles hanging on pegs in their kitchen where they can just reach up and take a pinch as needed while cooking. However, bundles may get dusty and lose some flavor when hanging in the open air this way for months. Stored, dried herbs naturally begin to lose their unique flavor after about a year. At that time, the herbs may still be useable but larger quantities will be required to flavor dishes. The drying method works best with the following herbs: basil, catnip, chamomile, dill, feverfew, lavender, lemon balm, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme.
How to Grow an Indoor Herb Garden
CONTAINERS/MEDIA: Consider a larger container so you can grow a few different herbs. Just make sure all the varieties in the container have the same water requirements (some don’t, see below for ideas). The container should also have drainage holes in the bottom and a saucer underneath to catch the excess water. Fill the container with a high-quality, sterile, soil-less, growing media that is free of large particles and weed seeds. This type of media gives the herbs good drainage and aeration while also holding adequate moisture and nutrients. Thoroughly pre-moisten the media with warm water before you sow your seeds.
LIGHT/ENVIRONMENT: Because herbs need at least six hours of sunlight per day, they love a sunny south- or west-facing window or even artificial lighting. If you’re using fluorescent lights, which we recommend, use both warm-white and cool-white, 125-watt bulbs hung 2 to 6 inches above the tops of the plants. Then set a timer so the plants receive 14-16 hours of light a day (they need more with artificial lighting than from natural light). As plants grow, adjust the height of the lights and rotate the plants so they grow evenly. To really get your herbs growing, keep the room temperature between 65º-75ºF.
SOWING: Use the seed packet directions to sow the seeds into the pre-moistened media then cover the containers with clear plastic wrap to retain consistent moisture. Check on them daily for signs of growth and if the media is still moist. When seedlings have germinated, remove the plastic.
WATERING: Keep the media evenly moist. Once plants are established, allow the media to dry slightly between watering.