Question: I would like to start growing herbs in my apartment, but my window don’t have ledges. Where can I place my herbs so they get the right amount of sunlight?
Answer: Cynthea Lam of Super Farmers grows basil, mint and spring onion inside her home, near a window that receives two hours of the east-facing sun, and they are thriving. She says it’s important they find a spot with at least two to four hours of filtered sunlight (which comes through a shade).
When caring for herbs, consider her ‘Big Four’ tips:
Transplant herbs; do not leave them in their original pots as “the roots may have become overcrowded and are seeking for new space to grow. With every root fighting for nutrients, the plant will turn yellow or wilt”.
As soon as possible, transplant the herbs to a bigger pot (with drainage holes) using good soil.
Next, watering. “There is a science to watering. Try to coincide with the plant’s time to make food once it receives sunlight. So, either wake up at dawn to water your plants, or water them the night before,” she says. Overwatering causes roots to rot, and water twice a day if hot or windy conditions dry up the soil.
All plants need to be fed nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as normal soil does not provide enough of these resources. There are chemical and organic fertilisers available, but Cynthea goes all-organic by using her three-year-old’s urine. “He still pees into a potty, so I collect his urine, which is sterile when freshly collected, and dilute it with 10 parts of water. This is one of the most balanced fertilisers Mother Earth has to offer,” she says.
Lastly, pinch your herbs. “My favourite quote is ‘pinch to grow an inch’,” shares Cynthea. “This is especially true for growing herbs, because we want more of those beautiful leaves for cooking. Pinching (also known as topping) encourages the plant to double its growth by developing new growth at the pinched site and keeps the plant bushy.”
You can also pinch off the flowers to flavour honey or tea. Pinch 10 to 15cm off the top of each stem and no more than one third of the plant in total, using shears or your fingernails.
Herbs that are easy to grow in our local climate are basil, mint, Indian borage, spring onion, coriander, curry, and pandan.
If you like this home tip, be sure to check out other gardening solutions here:
- Gardens in HDB flat bedrooms
- Where to buy plants for your home
- Get rid of bugs in your indoor and outdoor gardens the organic way
Article by Wong Siow Yuen.