Grow Fresh Herbs in a Sunny Window
Question: I miss my fresh herbs from the garden this time of year. The fresh herbs in the grocery store are very expensive. How can I grow some of my own herbs in my home?
Answer: Fresh herbs can be grown from seed in a sunny window. You could be picking them right now if you had thought to plant 2 months ago. However, if you sow seed now you could be harvesting by early March.
You can usually find herb seeds including oregano, sage, globe basil, chives, thyme, parsley and cilantro (coriander) in seed racks in stores. You will probably find the best selection in full service nurseries and garden stores. You can also get seeds within a few days from online sources such as johnnyseeds.com and territorialseed.com.http://johnnyseeds.com http://territorialseed.com
I like to grow herb plants in 4 inch pots. Fill pots to the rim with indoor potting soil. Water to moisten and settle the soil so it is about a half inch below the rim.
Scatter 6 to 10 seeds on top of the soil and press them gently into the soil. Moisten the soil again and place clear plastic over the top fastened with a rubber band. This traps moisture and humid air which improves germination. Water whenever the soil begins drying on top.
Ideal soil temperature for germination is about 70 degrees. I set my pots on a propagating mat with heating coils. Seeds will germinate at lower temperatures but it just takes a little longer. You can purchase a mat from the same place you buy seeds. Sometimes they are available with a tray with a clear plastic cover.
As soon as most of the seeds have germinated, remove the plastic and place pots in a sunny window. By having several plants in one pot, you will have a larger plant sooner. Gradually reduce watering frequency as sprouts develop several leaves. Allow the soil to get dry on top but still be moist a half inch below the surface. Feed plants with a liquid indoor plant fertilizer.
By the time sprouts have 6 to 8 leaves, you can begin snipping the ends for use in cooking. Snipping the ends will encourage shoots to branch with thick growth.
Most herbs except basil and cilantro can be planted outside in early April, since they will not be damaged by light frost. Basil is tender and should be treated like tomatoes. I usually start some large leaf Italian basil about the same time as tomatoes for outside planting. The dwarfer, globe basil grows better inside.
Allen Wilson can be contacted at email@example.com