1. Purchase healthy plants and a windowsill container that will hold several plants. You can also get individual pots for each. Aim for pots that are between six- and 12-inches deep. Make sure there are drainage holes.
Tips for an Indoor Herb Garden
When it comes to gardening, the winning combination of a green thumb and an expansive, perfectly-soiled yard is rare (especially in urban settings, obviously). Even if you're lucky enough to have all the stars aligned, once the summer sun fades and the chilly season sets in, there's little to be done in the way of gardening.
The solution for any of these conundrums? An indoor herb garden.
View the slideshow above for a step-by-step-guide to an indoor herb garden.
"I love to encourage people to garden both indoors and out," says The Plant Doctor Melinda Myers, an author, TV host, radio personality and all-around gardening expert. "Growing herbs on a windowsill is a great way to get started gardening and enjoy the fresh-from-the garden flavor." Melinda also stressed that an indoor herb garden is one of the most rewarding and easy-to-tackle options.
First, decide what you want to grow before heading to your local nursery. The plant selection can be overwhelming, so it's good to go in with a game plan.
"Start with the herbs you use most in cooking," Melinda says. "I like to recommend that people start with basil. Or chives! Both the flowers and leaves are flavorful."
Oregano is a popular herb for cooking and very easy to grow -- almost as easy as mint.
"All of these will thrive in the lower light conditions of an indoor garden," she adds.
Rosemary is a common selection because of its fragrance, but it can be very difficult to grow, Melinda says. "So save that for the second garden -- or know that if it dies, you are not alone!"
When you arrive at the nursery with your shopping list in hand, scope out the plants with the greenest leaves (or the most vivid color that's appropriate for that plant). Make sure they're free of brown edges, dry stems and any insects. "No need to spend money on existing problems," she says.
Some garden centers only carry herbs in the spring, so if yours is lacking, Melinda suggests checking out the produce section of your grocery store. "That is often where I buy my plants for winter workshops," she says. Once you get the herbs home, you're ready to get started.
Tips for an Indoor Herb Garden
2. Arm yourself with a well-drained potting mix; put a two- to three-inch layer of it in the bottom of your pots.
3. Loosen any circling roots before planting to encourage new roots to grow into the surrounding soil. When you pull the plant out of its container, grab around the base to lightly break up the formed roots.
4. Fill in remaining areas with new potting mix, pressing down gently around the plants. Leave about an inch at the top of the container for watering.
5. Water thoroughly until the excess runs out the bottom; never let the plants stand in water. "I like to fill the saucer below with pebbles, so the excess water collects in the saucer and the pot sits on the pebbles above the water," Melinda says.
6. Feed once a month with a fertilizer labeled for use on edibles.
7. Place pots in the sunniest window you have. If you don't have a sunny window, you can also use fluorescent lights; place them close to the plants -- about 18 inches away -- and keep them on for about 10 hours each day.
8. Allow the plants some time to acclimate to their surroundings. Once you see new growth, feel free to start cooking with your herbs.
9. To keep the plant growing, harvest leaves as needed. Regular harvesting will keep plants full and bushy, which means more for you to harvest (and use!) throughout the year. Tip: Never trim more than one third of your plant's foliage.
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