Monday, March 5, 2012

Windowsill Herb Garden in 10 Simple Steps

This may be the blind leading the blind (or rather the black-thumbed leading the black-thumbed) but here goes.

I've always wanted to have fresh herbs at the ready in my kitchen window, and we're lucky enough to have a little kitchen window box in our house here in Portland, so I'm taking the plunge this spring. So far, so good! I've started them from seed, and they seem happy.

Here's how I did it:

Step 1: Determine which herbs you would like to try your hand at growing and will use in the kitchen. Get seeds.

Step 2: Pick up some potting soil. I got Miracle Grow Moisture Control so I could stress less about over/under watering. I would NOT recommend nabbing soil from your backyard, as that soil may have critters and pests in it that you won't want to bring indoors. Nobody likes uninvited houseguests.

Step 3: Save an empty egg carton. Cut into individual sections and label one for each of your different herbs. Once your plants are sprouted tall enough you can plant the egg carton section directly in your vessel or choice (or the ground, if you like). The plant will easily grow down through them.

Step 4: Take a skewer or your scissors and poke a drainage hole in the bottom of each section -- give the water somewhere to go if you overdo it.

Step 5: Fill 'em up and sow the seeds.
Grab a spray bottle  and moisten the soil, then follow the instructions on the back of the seed packet regarding how deep to pant your seeds. I sowed several seeds in each egg carton section to ensure that SOMETHING sprouted. If you do the same, be sure to thin your seedlings later to ensure that they aren't overcrowded.

Step 6: Water thoroughly. And set them aside.

Step 7: Keep them moist. I took my spray bottle and gave them a spritz every day. I also created a makeshift terrarium for them using my cake stand and dome. (Which was also pretty cute!) Sunlight isn't as important at this stage in the game, since the seeds are covered by soil, but you'll want a sunny spot for them once they've sprouted, so you might as well put them where you'll want them to grow.

Step 8: Watch them grow! Mine sprouted through the soil in about a week, and I was so happy to meet my darling little sproutlings!

Step 9: Transplant them to their final home. Once your seedlings reach a couple of inches high, you can set them in a larger vessel with plenty of soil for them to grow in. A good indicator that your seedlings are ready is that they begin to sprout real leaves. (The sprouts will look different from regular leaves, so watch for leaves to grow that really look like parsley or dill, etc.)

Step 10: Set them in a sunny spot, water and love them! You might even make markers for them using this tutorial.

Enjoy your herbs!

A couple of things to consider:
*Some herbs, like mint and thyme, can be "aggressive", meaning that they creep and spread into the space of other plants, sometimes taking over. Plant them separately.
*If your kitchen window isn't an ideal spot, try your bedroom window or another sunny spot in the house.
*Seeds are inexpensive, and one packet comes with a great many more seeds than you will probably use. If your happen to meet with disaster, use some of the extras to try again. If your herbs are happy, put together a seedling kit for a friend: give them some soil, your extra seeds, and an empty egg carton to get them started!

Are you planning to try your hand at kitchen herbs for your windowsill? What will you plant? Any tips to share?
Leave a comment!

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  1. Where do I even begin with how adorable you are?! Cutest blog ever! I can't wait to grow my own herbs, its just impossible with the lay out I'm living in right now(student housing, high windows, not enough sun light). When we move out, it will be my requirement to have a layout for herbs and plants! Thanks for the tips! -Amber

    1. Thanks, Amber! You're darling. Our first apartment was just like yours. Very cave-like. I hope you get your wishes in your next apartment or house!


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