This year, Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring by not seeing his shadow. However, whether you call it a blackberry winter, dogwood winter or locust winter, winter snaps seem to find their way into affecting the growth of gardens and blooms. That being stated, begin an indoor garden and don’t let a possible late winter visit ruin your hard work.
Here are some tips to get you started:
The two most important things to do before beginning an indoor garden are placement and drainage. An ideal place for your indoor garden is one that allows for as much natural light as possible, preferably at least four hours of sun daily. Most herbs and plants prefer the same temperatures that we do, around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Most herbs don’t mind a dropped nightly temperature, but be sure they do not actually touch the window’s glass! Air near a window is going to be cooler or warmer, depending on the season, so be sure to arrange and adjust your plants accordingly. Dry, air-conditioned or heated air can cause herbs to dry out, so refresh them once a week by showering them in the sink.
Secondly, drainage can ruin both your plants and your tabletops or windowsills. Be sure to not use a clay saucer because it can let moisture pass through, and clay pots can dry out quickly due to dry climates or indoor heating during the winter months. Go for plastic, rubber or metal saucers and glazed or plastic pots/containers instead. Also, make sure that all pots should have drainage holes so herb roots aren’t sitting in water, eventually rotting. Lastly, premium potting mix will increase the life of your garden.
Many herbs are easy to maintain and don’t require a green thumb to keep alive. A few of my favorites are parsley, rosemary and basil.
Easy to grow and one of the most versatile herbs is parsley. Common varieties of parsley are flat-leaf (Italian) and curly-leaf, and they are sometimes confused with cilantro because of its foliage appearance. It is known for its deep flavor and functionality in the kitchen. Flat-leaf is popular because it is easy to cut and is more tolerant of hot weather than curly-leaf. Whether you use it as a garnish to add color to the plate or as a main ingredient, parsley is a key-component to any indoor garden.
Rosemary is known for its strong aroma, flavor and ability to go a long way in recipes. Rosemary requires a sunny window and possibly supplemental light to flourish the most. A premium potting soil that drains well and maintains moisture is necessary for this herb, as it is sensitive to overwatering. Rosemary can be trimmed any time and is encouraged to promote the growth of tender new stems.
If you want to try something more difficult, basil is a popular indoor garden feature but a little trickier than others. Basil requires consistently moist soil and thrives off warmth and sunlight, so be careful to not keep it on too cool a windowsill. This herb prefers temperatures in the 70’s day and night and will droop and fade quickly in cooler air. Invest in a room thermometer to monitor temperatures and insure the livelihood of your garden.
Indoor gardens are an excellent way to have fresh ingredients at your fingertips. Get started today with one of these three plants, and you’ll soon have the itch to add more!