Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Growing Herbs Indoors During Winter

Usually about this time of year I start getting antsy to play in the dirt. The snow is covering most everything, and what isn't covered is brown. Browsing seed catalogs is always a partial cure, but so is growing herb plants indoors. I don't have a bay window, or a sun room, but even my smaller windowsills will work for a few herbs, and I get to play in the dirt.

Clay pots work well for growing herbs inside because they drain well, and don't hold in the moisture too long like plastic pots tend to do. For smaller windowsills use smaller pots (at least 6 inches round) with only one herb per pot. If there is more room, such as a bay window, a 12 inch pot can hold several herbs. One combination that works well is a rosemary plant in the center of the pot, with two small parsley plants on one side and winter savory on the other. Another combination is a sage for the center and thyme, sweet marjoram and tarragon on the sides. These will grow well together and don't mind the close space.

Chives, whether garlic or traditional, are better grown in pots by themselves. Basil is best on it's own too, and has so many wonderful varieties that it makes it hard to grow just one type.

A nice way to use small pots on a windowsill is to line a long, thin tray with small stones or pebbles, then set the pots on top of the stones.

When looking for herbs to start now, check local garden departments for plants, or start herbs from seed. Dill, basil, and oregano are good choices, but try to buy varieties that are compact such as Globe basil or Fernleaf dill. It should describe it as such on the packet. Soil should always be a mix made for containers if possible. I usually pick up a bag from the local nursery or garden department at Walmart or Meijer.

Line the bottom of each pot with about an inch of small pebbles. I've often used aquarium stones and they work well. Top the stones with soil and sow the seeds as per the instructions on the packet. Water gently and place on the windowsill. This is a wonderful way to bring a little green into the house during winter.

On OFL I have an article on growing fresh ginger in a pot plus recipes: