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Sunday, April 15, 2012

DIY Herb Garden In Your Window


Spring is the perfect time to plant an herb garden in your window. Not only will it mean that you'll always have fresh herbs available, but you'll never have to worry about them spoiling like cut herbs can. Just snip off whatever you need whenever you need it.

In my window garden, I planted the herbs I use most in the kitchen: thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, basil, and majoram. If you like mint, always plant it alone, in its own container. Mint prefers shadier conditions than other herbs and can quickly crowd out other plants.

Because different plants have different requirements for sunshine and water, consider these factors as you pick out your herbs, especially if you'll be putting them in the same pot. If you need help, ask the seller which plants grow well together, how much sun they will need, and how often to water them so you can be sure to select what will grow best for you.

Most herbs are best bought as "starts" (small plants that someone else started for you) because they can be difficult to germinate or because they need to be germinated in the fall for a summer harvest. In New York City, find herb starts at the Union Square Greenmarket.

Plan to plant your herb starts inside a terra cotta or ceramic container. Be sure to use one large enough and deep enough to fit the plants comfortably without over-crowding, at least 6 to 8 inches deep. Planting containers should have drainage holes and bottom trays to catch excess water.

To make your own window garden at home, first assemble your materials:
  • Herb starts
  • Planting container
  • Organic potting soil
  • Natural drainage materials like rocks, sea shells, egg shells, and broken terra cotta or ceramic pottery
 


 Then follow these simple steps:
  1. Place the drainage materials inside the container.
  2. Scatter a thin layer of organic potting soil over the drainage materials. 
  3. Remove the starts from the plastic pots they came in and transfer them along with their soil to the container.
  4. Fill in the gaps between plants with organic potting soil. Press it down gently but firmly.
  5. Water the container thoroughly, until water starts to drain out the bottom. Allow it to drain completely. (I allow it to drain in the sink before I place it on the bottom tray. If you drain yours on the tray, empty the water.)
  6. Place your herb garden where it will get direct sunlight every day.
  7. Keep the soil moist (not wet) by watering it regularly. Never allow the roots to sit in water. (I make an exception for times when I'll be away and unable to water them on time. In this case only, too much water may be better than too little.) 
 

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