Grow an Edible Herb Garden…Indoors!

You need very few things to grow an herb garden right in your apartment – if there’s light, there’s a way! Container gardening is a great way for city folk to have a home-grown food source at their fingertips. Add that just-picked taste to your meals and you’ll be the talk of the Kensington!

At most home improvement stores, you can find everything you need to get started. Your shopping list should include a large pot with a tray, compost, drainage gravel, and choice of plants. Some grocers like Trader Joe’s have the supplies needed. Your apartment will supply the rest – the bright window, water and your budding green thumb! Let’s get started with these six quick steps:

  1. Choose a pot or planter with a large surface area, and at least 8 inches deep for greater yield. Make sure there is a tray to fit underneath to prevent water leaks and stains on the surface that it sits on.
  2. Fill the bottom of the pot with an inch or two or small stones or gravel to help the plants drain. Then fill with high quality organic compost/soil, leaving several inches at the top. Water the soil to moisten before adding plants.
  3. Start by growing only a handful of herbs at once, and once you’re successful, invest in pot #2 and grow other varieties. For both visual appeal and versatility in the kitchen, try your hand at sweet basil [choose 2-3 small plants], sage and thyme. Sage will be tall and purplish, Kelly green basil will grow bushy, and the lime green thyme will creep and trail. Other herbs to consider are mint [think homemade mojitos!], oregano, parsley and cilantro.
  4. Dig a small hole and remove one of your plants from its plastic container. Gently loosen the soil around the roots, and place in the hole. Pack about an inch of soil over the top of the root ball, and repeat process for other plants. Make sure you leave several inches between each hole. Water again when all plants are in the soil.
  5. Place the pot near the window that gets the most sun in your apartment.
  6. Keep the soil moist, but not drenched. If the plant looks droopy, then add a cup of water. Herbs should have somewhat damp soil, so check daily to be sure soil is not dry.

 

Then sit back and enjoy. Depending on how mature your plants were to begin with, you can usually start harvesting herbs right away. Use sharp clean scissors or pruning shears, and snip the leaves off the plants. Be sure to snip the leaves around the base first, so the plant will continue to grow and fill out. When using fresh herbs, a little goes a long way, so have fun experimenting.

Pro Tips

  • Basil – As it grows, clip any “flowers” before the plant goes to seed.
  • Cilantro – Like basil, cilantro “flowers” should be clipped before the plant goes to seed. It also requires plenty of drainage for the roots.
  • MintMint grows like a weed, and should be planted in its own, separate container so that it doesn’t overtake other plants. Happy mojito summer!
  • Buy a wheeled tray for your pot to make moving it around your apartment a piece of cake!
  • If your pot is extra large, layer packing peanuts or crushed cans on the bottom before putting soil in, to keep the weight of the entire pot manageable for moving.

 

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