How to grow herbs inside your home

How to grow herbs insideRecently, I moved across the country. Instead of living in a home with a large backyard (complete with herb-filled raised garden bed), I live in a spacious third-floor apartment. While I have a small balcony, there really isn’t ample room out there for an herb garden. Plus, I like the idea of growing fresh herbs year-round. Growing herbs indoors seems like the way to go — especially since the last of the herbs I dried from my old home will run out soon.

Here’s my plan for planting an indoor herb garden:

Choose the right herbs

Some herbs grow better indoors than others. Some of the easiest herbs to grow indoors, and what I will start with, include:

  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

You might notice that these are hardy herbs, and likely the very same herbs that tend to overrun your outdoor herb garden year after year. We always had oregano and thyme running wild in our garden bed.

Basil can work indoors, but it’s a little trickier. I’ve grown basil indoors in the past, so I know it’s possible. It’s just a little pickier than some of the other herbs when it comes to temperature.

While you can grow your indoor herb garden from seeds, I like to use starts (because I’m impatient). Figure out what is likely to work best for your situation and go from there.

Find a sunny window

One of the things I love about my apartment is that there is a lot of natural light. However, our location in the apartment building means that all of our windows face north and west. This makes things a little more difficult for me, since windows facing south often get more sun. However, the western windows should do the trick, as long as the herbs can get some direct sunlight in the afternoons. I can tell it will be difficult during the winter, but we’ll see if we can make it work.

While natural light is best for herbs, you might need to supplement with a grow light. There are a number of quality grow lights available that provide your herbs with the kind of light they need to thrive. You can buy lights ranging from $30 to more than $500. I plan to purchase a mid-range light that is highly portable for about $100. That way, if there isn’t enough sunlight, I can supplement with the grow light.

Remember to keep your herbs away from the glass of the window. Leaves that touch the glass can quickly wilt during the winter, since the temperature near the window will likely be colder during than other areas of the house. It’s especially important to keep basil away from the window. When we had basil, we moved the plant back away from the window at night during the winter so that it remained in its preferred temperature.

It’s also a good idea to move your herbs so that aren’t stuck beneath a heater. They will dry out quickly if hot air from a vent blows on them regularly. Make it a point to keep them well-watered, and away from the withering effect of dry air blowing on them.

Proper drainage

With a raised garden bed outside, it’s easy to ensure that the herbs have proper drainage. However, once you bring herbs into the house, drainage can become an issue, since the plants are kept in a pot, and natural drainage is unavailable. You need to make sure that you have drainage so the roots don’t rot. You also need to make sure that you have a way to keep the draining water from damaging whatever surface your plants sit on.

My favorite strategy is to buy pots that take drainage into account. These are pots that have two parts. The upper part has holes in the bottom so that excess water can drain. There is also a lower part that catches the drained water. As long as you don’t over-water your herbs, the moisture evaporates. These pots are set up so there is some aeration, as well as reducing the chance of rot.

Another possibility, if your pot doesn’t have holes in the bottom, is to line the bottom of the pot with two or three layers small stones of varying sizes so that it provides a little drainage within the pot.

With a little effort and planning, you can grow your herbs indoors, enjoying fresh flavor for your food, no matter the time of year.

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How to Start Dividend Investing When You Have Little Cash

Cash FlowIf you want to build long-term wealth, investing is one of the best options. To really super-charge your efforts, though, dividend investing can be a great option. With dividend investing, you have the chance to reinvest what you receive in payouts, essentially getting more shares for free. On top of that, later on, your dividends have the potential to become a significant source of income for you.

Dividend investing now can help you build your portfolio faster, and then when you are ready to retire, you can use dividends as income. Not only that, but dividends often receive favored tax status. As of this writing, in both the Canada and the United States, dividend investing comes with tax breaks. Any time you can see tax breaks for your investments, it’s a chance for you to grow your wealth even more efficiently.

But, even if you know that there are benefits to dividend investing, how can you take advantage of these opportunities? Many people think that they need a lot of money to make dividend investing work for them. After all, if a company is paying out 25 cents a share, you aren’t going to see a sizable payout unless you have the capital to buy a large amount of shares.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Dividend investing can be done, even if you don’t have a lot of money. Thanks to dollar cost averaging and dividend reinvestment plans, it’s possible for you to start investing now, no matter how much (or how little) money you have.

Start With a Dividend Index Fund

When you have a small amount of cash, you aren’t likely to be able to buy a lot of shares of solid dividend stocks. This is where indexing can help you. Investing in an index fund gives you instant diversity, there are usually low costs, and you can take advantage of a general trend for the market as a whole to rise over time, in spite of short-term losses due to volatility.

A dividend index fund is one that follows a variety of dividend paying investments. You can choose from high-yield funds, aristocrat funds, or funds filled with dividend stocks from different countries. Most online discount brokerages offer access to dividend index funds. Not only that, but you can usually buy fractional shares if you set up an automatic investment plan.

The ability to buy a portion of a share of a dividend fund is very helpful to the beginning dividend investor of limited means. You can set up a plan that deducts $100 from your account each month and uses to purchase as many shares as possible at the current market price. So, if a share of the dividend investment fund costs $75, your $100 can buy you 1.25 shares. The next month, your $100 buys however many shares it can, and you keep growing your portfolio.

Dividend index fund shares, purchased using an automatic investment plan, is one of the best ways to start dividend investing when you don’t have money.

Automatically Reinvest Your Dividends

A dividend index fund will result in regular payouts of dividends to your account. One of the best things you can do is give your discount broker’s automatic investment plan the ability to automatically reinvest your dividends. Whatever dividends you receive will go toward buying more fractional shares of your fund.

As you continue to use dollar cost averaging to buy shares, and as your automatic reinvestment adds more shares over time, your dividend payouts will get bigger. And, as your payouts get bigger, you will be able to buy more shares with your dividend reinvestment. You can see how the cycle feeds on itself and continues to grow your portfolio.

Over time, as your income increases, you can put more money toward buying dividend investments. You can sell some of your fund shares to purchase individual equities, or diversify into REITs. As you progress, it’s possible to change up your strategy, slowing continuing to build your portfolio and your nest egg.

The most important thing is that you start as early as you can so that you have time on your side. With the accessibility of investments, and with the different options you have now, it’s easier than ever to start investing in dividends, even if you don’t have a lot of money.

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