Having fresh herbs doesn’t have to stop with the first frost, says Marion Owen, founder of PlantTea Inc., and coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul (Health Communications, 2001). Dress up your favorite recipes this winter with fresh basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, sage, and thyme. Here are Owen’s tips to make your herbs thrive—indoors.
>> Parsley, garlic, chives, and oregano are the easiest herbs to grow indoors because they don’t require as much moisture as some other herbs.
>> With reduced sunlight intensity and shorter days in the winter, putting plants on window-sills may not be enough. If your plants get less than 12 hours of direct sunlight, consider installing reflectors or fluorescent lighting. Herbs that don’t need as much light include members of the mint family, chives, lemon balm, chervil, and lovage.
>> Plant herbs in commercial organic potting soil. Don’t add any dirt from your yard, because it may contain bugs that could infest your herbs and home.
>> Avoid planting more than one herb in a pot, to allow for healthy root growth.
>> Mist plants daily to add humidity. Never let soil get completely bone-dry.
>> If you fertilize, use organic, kelp-based products, but only sparingly.
>> Keep in mind that herb plants have a lifespan, typically around two to four months. Replace plants as needed.