Growing an Indoor Herb Garden
by Holly Boettcher
Using fresh herbs is a way to add intense or subtle flavor to any dish, including soups, stews, and roasted vegetables. You can add them to dressings and sauces or use them for garnish to make your food presentation POP! Although I enjoy them each day when I cook, there is satisfaction that comes with having a garden growing in my kitchen window. Want to give it a try? Here are some ideas to get you started.
Plant from seed or purchase plants?
Starting seeds from scratch at this time of year can give you a long wait period before you are able to harvest and use the herbs. Because of this, I prefer to buy healthy plants in the produce section at a grocery store.
Selecting Herbs for Success
The absolute best herbs to plant are flat leaf or curly leaf parsley, chives, rosemary, basil, cilantro, sage, and thyme. Basil can be finicky, so after numerous trials and errors, I have found a few tricks for success. It is the most susceptible to damage from cold temperatures on the trip home. So, wrap basil in an extra protective layer of a paper bag or under your jacket until you get to your car. It most likely will come in a plastic sleeve. As soon as you get home, remove the plants from the plastic. They need air circulation and plenty of lighting to prevent them from damping off. I have had plenty of practice with what does not work for basil. Although the other herbs are not as fussy with the amount of sunlight, basil must get at least six hours per day, so I keep mine under a fluorescent light that I have under my kitchen cupboards.
I planted the rosemary in this picture in a pot last spring and moved it indoors at the first signs of frost. Chives and parsley are others I keep in pots and move in and out with the seasons.
Transplanting & Care
It is important to use pots with proper drainage, and you need a tray for under them, so water does not damage your windowsill. I like to use terra cotta pots. They are functional and look consistent in my window. Transplant into containers that are slightly larger than what they were living in to give them a little room to grown. Use an organic fertilizer every 10 days to two weeks.
A sunny window facing south is best. And if you have any draft it is best to have the herbs on a table a few feet away from the window, where they can still catch some sun. Make sure they are not near a heat register.
It is so rewarding to have fresh herbs available in my kitchen window during the winter months.
I hope you consider growing an herb garden in your kitchen this winter. I know it will keep your spirits lifted!