Congratulations! You are the owner of Chia Gourmet Herb Garden®, the indoor herb growing
kit featuring the patented Chia® Growing Sponge.
Following is a general guide to start planting. Please see next section for more detailed
information to ensure your success.
1. Place plastic liners and pots into each saucer.
2. Moisten Chia® Growing Sponges by soaking them with water and gently squeezing out
excess water. Place one Chia® Growing Sponge into each pot.
3. Slowly pour a small amount of water over each Chia® Growing Sponge, until 1/2” water
collects in the saucer liner.
4. Choose three herb varieties you want to plant. Save the other seed packets for another use.
5. For all seed varieties (except Chives), sprinkle entire packet onto the surface of each Chia®
Growing Sponge in each pot. Please see the additional instructions for Chive planting in the
6. Place appropriate plant marker in each pot.
7. To encourage germination, loosely cover each herb pot with plastic wrap or a plastic sandwich
bag. This will create a mini-greenhouse environment for each plant.
8. Place pots in a warm location, such as on top of your refrigerator.
9. Check plants daily to make sure that Chia® Growing Sponges are moist. A good guide is to
check if there is any water in the plastic liner. If it is dry, add a little water. Chia® Growing
Sponges will absorb the excess water from the bottom of the saucer as needed.
GROWING HERBS USING THE PATENTED CHIA® GROWING SPONGE
This section will give you more detailed information for using the Chia® Growing Sponges.
The patented Chia® Growing Sponge is the unique, new growing medium that replaces
traditional potting mixes and soil. It is much cleaner, neater and easier to use. It is made
of peat moss, tree bark and sponge material. You may notice a white, fuzzy substance
on the surface of some Chia® Growing Sponges. It is a naturally occurring by-product
of the tree bark, which is beneficial for plant growth. The Chia® Growing Sponge is
superior for germinating seeds and sustaining growth of your herb plants because it
maintains the proper air-to-water ratio that is so tricky to control with growing mixes.
In addition, transplanting your herbs is a simple and clean process because the plant
and the Chia® Growing Sponge are transplanted together.
Soak Chia® Growing Sponges in water for one minute for one minute to fully saturate
and moisten them. If any are a bit distorted when dry, they will go back to their original
shape once wet. Squeeze out excess water.
Place one Chia® Growing Sponge in each pot. Add a little water to the top of the Chia®
Growing Sponge so that the excess water will fill up the plastic liner about 1/2” high.
Gently press down on the Chia® Growing Sponge with your fingers. Each Chia® Growing
Sponge should fit comfortably inside each pot, the outer edges of the Chia® Growing
Sponge just touching the sides of the pot.
With terra cotta pottery, there may be slight variances in size from pot to pot. This is a
normal aspect due to the manufacturing process of clay. Although a pot size difference
may not be noticeable by sight, some Chia® Growing Sponges may seem like they are
too “loose” for the pot. If so, you can trim a 1/8” slice from the bottom of a Chia®
Growing Sponge using a pair of scissors. This will cause the Chia® Growing Sponge to
rest a little lower in the pot, with a more snug fit.
The Chia® Growing Sponge will absorb the proper amount of water that is necessary.
Excess water will collect in the plastic liner. As the water in the Chia® Growing Sponge
evaporates, it will “drink” from the plastic reservoir, always maintaining the proper moisture
level for growing success. Check the water level in the plastic liner daily and you will be
able to monitor if your plant needs water.
Water your plants by either adding water to the top of the Chia® Growing Sponge, or by
adding water to the plastic liner. If you are going to go away on vacation or will not be
able to tend to your plants on a daily basis for a week or so, here is all you have to do:
place your pots (without the saucers or plastic liners) in a shallow waterproof container.
Add water to the container until pots are sitting in 1-2” of water. As your plants need
water, the Chia® Growing Sponge will absorb as much as necessary.
Chia Gourmet Herb Garden® contains six different seed varieties. You choose which
four varieties you would like to grow to create your own personal gourmet herb mix.
We do not recommend planting more than one herb variety per pot. Save the remaining
two varieties for another use.
Planting seeds has never been easier! Simply sprinkle the entire packet of seeds
(except Chives) on the top surface of the moistened Chia® Growing Sponge.
Chives are a type of seed that prefers to be planted inside, rather than the top surface
of the Chia® Growing Sponge. All you have to do is insert a sharp pencil into the
moistened Chia® Growing Sponge about 1/2” deep to start a hole. By wiggling the
pencil side to side,or by using your thumb and index finger, spread apart the hole to
create a pocket about 1” long. Pour the entire packet of Chive seeds into this pocket
and gently close the pocket so that the Chia® Growing Sponge resumes its natural
shape. Don't worry if a portion of the pocket is visible after you plant the seeds.
Place the appropriate plant stakes in each pot to identify each herb as they grow.
We recommend that you cover each pot loosely with plastic wrap. A plastic sandwich
bag over each pot is ideal because it will increase the temperature and humidity around
the seeds, but will also allow air to circulate around the seeds. This step will encourage
quicker germination, but is not necessary for success. If you omit this step, please
make sure your planted seeds are always moist. Don't let the surface of the Chia®
Growing Sponge dry out.
As an alternative to plastic wrap, you can remove the bottom from empty 1 gallon plastic
milk containers to create domes to place over your potted plants. Keep the top of the milk
containers open to allow the air to circulate.
If there is inadequate air circulation, you may notice the formation of a fuzzy white
substance growing on the seeds and sponge. Do not be alarmed as this is a natural by
product of the sponge that occurs when there is too much humidity. Simply wipe it off
and remove the covering periodically to allow air to circulate around plants.
Place your pots in a warm place, avoiding cold drafts. The top of your refrigerator is ideal.
You do not need sunlight at this stage. Your herb seeds will germinate at different rates.
Depending upon the conditions in your home, Marjoram and Basil should germinate within
5 days, Dill within 8 days, Parsley within 10 days and Cilantro and Chives within 14 days.
Once seeds germinate, move the plants to an area with a lot of light. The best light source
will be from a south-facing window. If your window does not provide at least 6 hours of direct
sunlight each day, you must supplement with artificial lighting. See Herb Maintenance
Requirements for more information.
You can leave the plastic over the plants until the plants reach 1-2” tall. Gradually remove
the plastic for a couple of hours each day for a week before taking it off completely.
This will allow your plants to adjust to their new environment gradually.
When plants receive their first true leaves, it is time to add plant food to their diet. There are
many good plant foods available at your local nursery. See Herb Maintenance Requirements
for more information.
HERB MAINTENANCE REQUIREMENTS
Once seeds germinate, there are a number of factors the indoor gardener must address for
herbs to thrive. Growing herbs indoors is different than outdoor gardening. Please adhere to
the following maintenance requirements for best results. Light. Herb plant seedlings need a
lot of light. If herb plants do not receive sufficient light, they will grow thin and leggy. Their
color will be pale green to yellow. If the light source is not strong enough, your herb plants
will stretch and bend to the light.
Select a south-facing window that will receive a minimum of 6 hours of direct light per day.
Be sure that the reflected heat from the window is not too strong. Rotate plants every three
days to balance growth.
Depending upon where you live, or the time of year you plant your Chia® Herb Garden®,
you may need to supplement or substitute artificial light for sunlight. There are many plant
“grow light” bulbs for this purpose. A standard fluorescent, two-tube, cool white bulb fixed
over your plants for 14 hours a day will also work.
Moisture. Your plants may require water each day, because air and water readily flow through
the porous clay and Chia® Growing Sponge. This is also beneficial because the plant roots
receive necessary oxygen.
Water plants by adding water to the plastic liner or on top of sponge. It is best to allow sponges
to dry somewhat between waterings so that sponges are not always very wet.
Never allow the Chia® Growing Sponge to dry out to the point that it begins to pull away from
the sides of the pot. The Chia® Growing Sponge should always be moist. When you touch the
surface of the Chia® Growing Sponge, your finger should be able to feel the moisture. You
can use the absence of water accumulated in the plastic liner as a guide as to when to add water.
Feeding. It is important to provide your herb plants nutrients once the seedlings have developed
their first true leaves. The first true leaves are the second set of leaves that develop once seeds
germinate. A balanced liquid plant food for houseplants or for your garden will work. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. As herb plants mature, you do not want to overfeed your plants.
Plant food will make the leaves large and lush but will not produce as much of the concentrated
oils that give herbs their distinct flavor and aroma.
A whitish residue may form on the outer surface of the pots when you feed your plants. This is
an accumulation of salts from the plant food and is a normal occurrence with clay pots. Simply
wipe it off the pots. It will not affect the growing of your herb plants.
Plant Thinning. Basic gardening philosophy dictates aggressive thinning of plant seedlings.
“Thinning” is the removal of seedlings to avoid overcrowding, so the plants will not have to
compete for space and nutrients. Harvesting young herb seedlings is an effective way to
thin your plants. With Chia® Growing Sponge, however, your plants can thrive with little,
if any, additional thinning, provided plants are given proper nutrients to grow.
Humidity and Air Circulation. Herbs will grow best in environments of high humidity. You
can increase the humidity around your plants by frequent misting. Herb plants require fresh,
circulating air. Increase the airflow around your plants by opening a nearby window, but do
not subject your plants to a draft. Stale, stagnant air may harbor pests and diseases.
Temperature. Herbs will grow successfully in daytime temperatures of 65-degrees F and
nighttime temperatures of 55-60° F. Remember that the temperatures near your window
may not match the temperatures in your home. Temperatures near a window tend to be
higher than room temperature during the day and lower during the night.
Pests. Young, tender herb plants are susceptible to insects. Yellow mottled leaves are
signs of infestations. If insects attack your plants, DO NOT use dangerous chemicals.
You can wash your plants with a very mild soap water solution, taking care to rinse the
herb leaves thoroughly to remove soap residue. In addition, cut off heavily infested areas.
Do not place your herb plants near other plants that may be infested.
The reward of the herd gardening is having fresh, flavorful herbs available at your fingertips
whenever you want them. All of the herbs contained in this kit will have flavor throughout
the growing season and may be picked at anytime.
Trim Cilantro, Dill, and Parsley leaves as needed. Frequent picking and snipping of branches
will encourage new growth on your Basil, Chives and Marjoram plants. Basil, Cilantro, Dill
and Parsley are annuals, which means that their lifespan is one season. Chives and Marjoram
are perennials, which means that with proper care, they should last for many years. Extend
the life of all your herb plants by removing flower buds that may develop.
Herbs grown in the Chia® Growing Sponge can easily be transplanted with less stress to the
herb plants because the root structure is not disturbed as much as plants grown in traditional
To transplant, make a well in the soil a little larger than the pot from which you are transplanting.
With one hand over the top of the pot, tip the potted herb plant over and allow the plant and Chia®
Growing Sponge to slide into your hand. Place the Chia®Growing Sponge and plant into the well
and cover with 1/4” of soil. It is important that the
Chia® Growing Sponge is completely covered with new soil. Water thoroughly. You can transplant
your plants from their clay pots into larger pots or to a sunny location in your garden. Plants will be
able to grow to their full potential when transplanted outdoors. If you will be transplanting your herbs outdoors, you must let the plant adjust to the environment of its future new home. For one week,
allow your herb plant to spend some time outside. Set your plant outside for one hour the first day.
Increase the amount of time each day so that by the end of the week, your herb plant has been
outside the entire day. If the weather is particularly warm, shade new transplants against the sun.
ABOUT YOUR HERBS
Sweet Basil, Ocimum basilicum – Annual
Basil has shiny green leaves that are 1-2 inches long. Basil grows quickly. Frequent cutting of
leaves and branches will encourage plant to become bushy and full. Basil plants benefit from
aggressive thinning. Snip leaves and plants as needed. Gradually thin plants to four strong
plants. The leaves are easily bruised, and must be handled with care. In the garden, basil can
grow to 2 feet high and will spread rapidly. To encourage new growth, cut leaves and flower buds.
Do not cut off more than 2/3 of the plant at any given time. Make sure at least 4 leaves remain
each time you cut your plants. Sweet basil has a spicy, sweet aroma as it lends a distinct flavor
to pestos, tomato sauces, vegetables, soups, eggs and most Italian recipes.
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum – Perennial
Chive leaves are slender, hollow and have a light onion flavor. The plants are very hardy, and can
be cut at the surface and they will grow back fuller. Chives grow in grass-like clumps. Use chives
as often as there is growth to use. This will encourage more shoots to develop. In your garden,
Chives prefer full sun and will grow up to two feet. If allowed to bloom, they will produce large, pink,
edible blossoms. The pompom-shaped flowers also make attractive additions to floral arrangements.
The mild onion-like flavor of the Chive leaves lends itself well to salads, soups, egg dishes, potatoes
and flavored vinegars.
Cilantro, Coriandrum sativum – Annual
Cilantro plants are unique as their leaves and seeds are used for different purposes. The leaves are
called Cilantro; the seeds are know as Coriander. Cilantro has one main flowering stem. Leaves from
this stem are oval with toothed edges; leaves from side branches can become lacy and fern-like. Snip leaves and branches as needed. As flowering stalks develop, cut them off to extend the life of your
In the garden, plants reach 18 inches. Although the plant will go to seed after several months, full
hot sun encourages Cilantro to go to seed more quickly. The pungent leaves of Cilantro are perfect
for Mexican and Oriental recipes, as well as poultry dishes.
Dill, Anethum graveolens – Annual
Dill is a favorite of many gardeners due to its flavorful and attractive feathery foliage. Snip dill
leaves frequently to discourage this herb and to control growth. If you don't cut dill leaves
frequently, the plant will quickly outgrow the pot. When transplanted outside, Dill can grow up
to 4 feet. In addition to the tasty leaves, Dill produces yellow, umbrella-shaped flowers, which
produce the seeds. The leaves of Dill are delicate and add a distinct flavor to salads, seafood
Parsley, Petroselinum crispum – Annual
Curled Parsley is a hardy plant whose ruffled leaves are beautiful and flavorful at all growth stages.
The leaves become tufted and have serrated edges. Trim leaves as needed. Parsley is an ideal
container plant since it grows slowly. When transplanted outside, Parsley is often used for both
ornamental and culinary purposes. Fresh Parsley is used as a garnish and to add a peppery flavor
to such foods as vegetables, meats, stew, potatoes and marinades.
Sweet Marjoram, Origanum majorana – Perennial
Marjoram leaves are small and oval. When mature, the leaves are light green on top and grey green
on the underside. Marjoram is very slow-growing. Allow all plants to develop side shoots. Snip
Marjoram as needed. The branches are very delicate until the plant matures. In the garden,
Marjoram can grow up to 2 feet in full sun or partial shade. When mature, small white flowers grow
from the clusters of tiny leaves at tips of the stems. Sweet Marjoram is used in salads, cooked
vegetables, poultry, seafood, stuffing and sauces.
Using Herbs in your cooking is an adventure. You are not limited to associating individual herbs
with specific foods. Fresh herbs have the unique ability to impart special flavor to food. Learn
each herb's taste and texture characteristics and experiment freely.
Here are some recipes and cooking ideas incorporating herbs with everyday food.
Herbed Butters are great served as a spread for bread, or a topping for pastas, fish and meats. Also try using herbed butter when grilling corn on the cob or other vegetables. You can use one or more herbs as desired.
1/4 cup sweet or unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp. Fresh herbs, minced
Mix the butter and herbs together until smooth. Press butter mixture into a small
container, or refrigerate to slightly firm butter and shape into balls. Chill herbed butter for
3 hours to allow flavors to mix,
By adding herbs and seasonings to different types of cheeses, you can create a variety of
spreads, dips and cheese logs. Following is a very basic cream cheese-based spread that
can also double as a dip by adding a little more sour cream. Experiment making herbed
cheese logs by combining Feta or Cheddar Cheese and fresh herbs.
1 cup cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. Sour Cream
2 Tbsp. Minced fresh herbs
Combine all ingredients until smooth. Chill for 8 hours to blend flavors. Allow to sit at
room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
There are more recipes to add from our book, and we can develop some more.