By Claire Trost, contributing writer
Deep in January and February, between the snow, ice, cold temperatures and grey days, it can feel like spring will never come. To help brighten the long days, there is nothing better than the fresh scent (and taste) of herbs grown right in your home.
Keeping herbs on a bright windowsill is not just convenient when preparing home cooked meals throughout the winter months in cooler climates; it’s also a good option year round for apartment or condo dwellers. With plenty of light, water, and good soil, the right herbs will thrive indoors.
What you’ll need to grow herbs indoors:
The Right Space
Herbs, like most other plants, need ample sunlight. Find a place in your home that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily. A south or southwest facing window often works best, but be sure that the herbs do not touch the window pane as it can easily retain the cool temperatures from outside.
If an east facing window gets adequate sunlight feel free to use it. And, if all else falls, artificial lighting can work as well, so long as it is placed very close to the plant.
The Right Soil
To grow well, herbs need light, well draining soil. Potting soil is better than dirt from the garden; you don’t want to bring soil-borne pests and disease indoors.
The Right Amount of Water
Herbs do not like too much water because it can cause the roots to rot, but at the same time, herbs need water to survive. Use your fingers to test the dampness of the soil. It should be damp but not soaked.
To help maintain the right amount of moisture, make sure the container the herbs are in has good drainage. Many pots have holes in the bottom to help drain water. To save your windowsill, use a a saucer or pan under the container. Remove any excess water that accumulates in the saucers so that the herbs are not sitting in water.
Also, be aware that most herbs will be fine at the temperature in your home during the winter, but having the heat on can make the soil dry out quickly.
The Right Herbs
Herbs that do well indoors in containers are things like basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, mint, dill, and chives. Know that basil, dill, and chives will go to seed in a few months as they are annuals and will need to be replanted.
A good rule of thumb is to choose herbs that you commonly use in your kitchen. Then decide if you would like to start them from seed or opt for plants.
Starting from seed is cheaper, but it will need more attention and time. Plant the seeds in a small container with damp potting soil at the depth recommended on the seed packet. Keep the seeds and soil warm and make sure they retain their moisture until seedlings pop up, then water daily. As the seeds grow, you may need to move them to a larger container.
If using starter plants, carefully remove the plant from its original container and fan out the roots. Place into a container that is at least six inches deep with good drainage and a bit of potting soil at the bottom. Add potting soil to the container to ensure it’s full, and press gently around the base of the plant. Water so that the soil and plant settle into the container.
Using your Herbs
Use kitchen scissors or small garden shears to snip sprigs from the plant as you need them for cooking or if you notice that they are looking leggy. Herbs actually look better and are healthier if you keep them trimmed, so enjoy them often.
(And, before you know it will be spring again!)
Claire is a “City Girl” transplant that now lives on eighty panoramic acres in the country and writes for theblogbloom.com. Bloom is a local food and backyard gardening blog full of recipes, garden tricks, cooking tips and sometimes humous realities of what life is like when you own chickens… and designer shoes. Through the sarcasm and the dirt, there is an underlying theme of growth in every sense. Claire is a first time mom-to-be and has a passion for wholesome, home cooked meals.