Mention fresh herbs to a cook and watch their eyes light up. Fresh herbs provide an interesting flavor boost to great meals that can’t be matched by dried herbs.
The beauty of growing fresh herbs on the kitchen counter is having access to the freshest herbs possible, at much more reasonable prices, and to many varieties that aren’t available in stores.
The flavor difference between basil picked fresh from basil that was picked last week, shipped for miles, warehoused, stored in the back room of the grocery store, then finally moved to your fridge is almost as big as the difference between fresh and dried.
And growing at home gives you access to any of the hundreds of varieties of fresh herb seeds on the market. Enjoy lemon basil, sage or any number of herbs that are rarely available in stores.
In addition, raising fresh herbs in the home can be more economical, with very high output possible. Watch this video of basil production over four months in the AeroGarden.
That’s a lot of basil! But to get output like that requires a lot more than just a pot of dirt and a sunny windowsill. There are 3 keys to high output herb harvests indoors:
Most herbs are sun loving plants. The more sun they get, the faster they grow. Herbs without enough sun can grow slowly and get spindly.
It is possible to grow herbs with some success in a very sunny window. However yields tend to be dramatically lower than if you supplement with grow lights. In fact, yields are much higher if you just forget the sunny window and grow with grow lights. In our tests, AeroGardens produced 8 to 10 times more herbs in a 3 month period than trying to grow them in a sunny window alone.
Some people like the romance of fresh herbs in a sunny window. But what we really like are fresh herbs! So whether you add supplemental light, or create a light garden that doesn’t need additional sunshine, adding light to your indoor herb garden will dramatically increase both the quantity and quality of the fresh herbs you grow, while also broadening the number of herbs that you can grow successfully.
Some people also like the romance of dirt. A lot of our fans grow big outdoor gardens in the dirt every year. But for herbs, there are reasons to grow hydroponically. Here’s why:
- It’s faster. 300% faster! In test after test, scientifically monitored and controlled, we get 3X more yield from plants grown in an AeroGarden than the same plants grown in dirt, when all else is equal. This video shows what that looks like:
While I’d like to say that speed is “all about the AeroGarden” the truth is, it’s all about hydroponics. Now the AeroGarden makes hydroponics really easy, but you would see a big, big boost in speed of growth any time you move from soil to a reasonable hydroponic system. There is just too much advantage to be gained, especially in fast growing crops like herbs, when you move to the consistent moisture, oxygen and nutrient levels provided by hydroponics.
Hydroponics have other benefits too. For most people, planting herbs in a pot in a sunny window means small pots, lots of heat, and frequent death by under-watering. Most herbs started in sunny windows just don’t live very long.
Hydroponics makes keeping plants watered much simpler, and some systems, like the AeroGarden, will even remind you when to add water and nutrients. In addition, hydroponics attracts fewer bugs, and in many systems, is much less messy than dirt, which can be nice in the kitchen.
Because herbs grow so fast, they need more nutrients than your average houseplant, although they are lighter feeders than tomatoes and peppers. Even in good quality soil, you’ll need to amend with a good quality nutrient or other fertilizer after the first few weeks of growth.
We recommend using a good quality liquid fertilizer or nutrient because of the ease of application, both with hydroponic and soil based plants. You can pre-mix the nutrient at a diluted ratio in a gallon of water and apply with every watering.
We like using hydroponic nutrients for all plant feeding, as they contain all 13 of the macro and micro nutrients needed for great growth – most plant fertilizers contain only a few and rely on soil to provide the rest. AeroGarden nutrients are well suited for this, mixed at 2 ml per gallon, but any commercially available formula should work. Follow instructions on the nutrients re mixing strength.
If you are looking for frequent large harvests of fresh herbs for your family and entertaining, we highly recommend going beyond a “pot of dirt in a sunny window.” For best yields, using hydroponics with grow lights can yield up to 10 times what you can expect to harvest in soil without grow lights, at the same time making it easier to grow.