TribLIVE

| Lifestyles


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Take it inside this growing season

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints
Herb containers are good indoor gardening projects for the winter. Credit: Jessica Walliser

Daily Photo Galleries


By The Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

If you're not quite ready to give up the ghost on the gardening season, move it indoors. Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow in containers and many of them perform quite well on a sunny windowsill. With a little effort, you can harvest fresh, homegrown herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano and parsley through the entire winter.

Begin your indoor herb-growing adventure with some clean containers. Plastic or glazed terracotta pots are best, as they don't dry out as quickly as unglazed terracotta pots. Be sure each container has a drainage hole in the bottom and a saucer beneath it to catch the drips. For perennial herbs, you'll want a minimum of 8 inches of pot diameter per plant. Annual herbs can get away with tighter quarters, so putting two plants per 8-inch pot is possible. If you plan to mix several herb varieties in a single container, you can put three or four plants in each 16- to 18-inch pot. And, as many herbs are shallow-rooted, you don't need a very deep container; a shallow, bowl-like pot works just fine.

Fill the container with a commercially made soilless potting mix. These mixes are best for indoor growing, as they are light, well-draining and sterile. Use the most expensive potting mix you can afford, because using a high-quality potting soil means less frequent watering as well as consistent soil volume.

Once the pots are filled, select your plants. Begin this process by deciding what flavors you love — let your cookbooks and appetite be your guide. Visit your favorite local nursery to see what they have in stock. If you'd like, you can seek out smaller-statured varieties of favorite herbs that are specifically bred for container conditions. Included in my personal favorites are ‘Pixie' purple basil, ‘Santo' cilantro, ‘Dr. Ietswaart' golden oregano, chives, sweet marjoram, ‘Cameo” basil, ‘Kaliteri' oregano, and parsley.

Place your new herb garden in a sunny windowsill. Or, for even better harvests, invest in a small grow light. Turn on the grow light for 12 to 15 hours per day. Keep your herbs well-watered by moving the pot to the sink every seven to 10 days (or whenever the soil feels dry) and flushing the pot with water until at least 20 percent of what you put in the top, comes out the drainage hole in the bottom.

Allow the pot to sit in the sink until it fully drains, then empty the saucer and put the plant back in the windowsill or under the grow light. Although it isn't necessary to fertilize your herbs in the winter, especially if the potting mix you selected contains a slow-release fertilizer, you can water the pot with diluted liquid kelp (available at local nurseries, at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, www.groworganic.com, and through other online sources) every three to four weeks.

To harvest your herbs, use your thumb and forefinger to pinch off sprigs or individual leaves. Do not harvest more than a quarter of the foliage at any one time.

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to tribliving@tribweb.com or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
  2. Meat prices drain barbecue budgets
  3. Starkey: Penguins’ arrogance astounding
  4. Matt Calvert’s goal in double OT evens series for Blue Jackets
  5. NFL notebook: Pryor will be cut if he’s not traded
  6. Penguins’ Gibbons scores twice but leaves with apparent injury
  7. Pair of Braun homers spells defeat for Pirates
  8. One dead, one wounded in shooting at Chartiers party
  9. North Versailles, Murrysville families still waiting for report on 2011 chopper crash that killed couple
  10. Draftees’ longevity key for NFL success
  11. State police: People injured in Parkway crash resulting from police chase
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.