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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Is a spending money fast the right move for you?

If there’s a time of year that makes you feel that you’ve definitely been overspending, it’s the holiday season. Even when you try to be frugal, and keep the materialism to a minimum, spending still manages to creep. From the gift exchange you feel you have to participate in, to the food you purchase when you entertain, to the decorations that you couldn’t pass up because they were on sale, it seems as though it’s especially hard to keep your spending under control this time of year.

It’s especially hard for me to keep a lid on my spending during the holidays, no matter how hard I try. As a result, come January, I’m ready to never spend again. There’s a reason that so many people decide to go on a “spending money fast” after the holidays are over. But is a spending money fast the right move for you?

What is a spending money fast?

A spending money fast is a conscious effort to dramatically reduce where you spend money. In fact, much as you avoid eating and drinking for a set period of time when going through a fast, you decide on a period of time in which you won’t spend any money. Usually, a month is the desired amount of time, since it is a meaningful period of time, and it can help you develop new habits to replace the spending habit that you might be stuck in.

With your spending money fast, you continue using your money on must-pay items, like your mortgage payment or rent, your bills, and making your debt payments. You should also purchase groceries as needed. Everything else is usually cut out, unless an emergency comes up, such as the need to repair your car, or replace a broken appliance.

Your spending money fast should also consider cutting out extravagant spending, like junk food at the store. The idea behind a spending money fast is that you only purchase true necessities. So, you might need produce for this week, but you don’t need to buy popcorn or candy. Many people also use a spending money fast as a good time to make use of their food storage. If you are concerned about some of your pantry items reaching an expiration date, your spending money fast can include these items. You won’t have to spend as much at the store, since you can use your food storage to prepare most of your meals. If you wait until later in the year, your spending money fast can coincide with harvesting your garden in order to reduce your need to buy food.

Some people make it a point to go on a spending money fast three or four times a year, just to make sure that they refocus their priorities and reduce the chance that lifestyle inflation will creep in.

Is a spending money fast practical in your situation?

For my family, a spending money fast isn’t really practical. That’s because my husband won’t get on board. He’s not really a big spender, but he likes to buy extra foods at the store sometimes, just to try them, and he enjoys being able to purchase collectibles when he wants, without having to worry about the timing. A spending money fast isn’t going to work in my case — unless I’m willing to to just make it a personal spending money fast.

A spending money fast might not be practical if you have obligations coming up, or if you know that you will be spending money on something important to you soon. An upcoming wedding that you will have to travel for, or if you know that you are going to make other purchases soon, a spending money fast might not make sense, since you won’t be able to keep with it.

On the other hand, a spending money fast can be a good idea if you are trying to figure out what really matters to you. If you want to see what you can do without, and what you would like to cut from your budget, a spending money fast can be a way to see what you truly miss in your spending, and what you don’t care for. Plus, a spending money fast can help you set new priorities, and reduce your overall spending.

Finally, if you are determined to get out of debt as quickly as possible, a spending money fast can be a way to kick off your efforts. A good spending money fast, with the savings going toward your debt, can boost your morale and help you see good results.

What do you think? Have you tried a spending money fast? Did it work?