A Kitchen Garden-Fresh Herbs Made Easy

Of all the plants you can grow indoors, few are as gratifying as culinary herbs whose scent will lift your spirits and whose flavor will delight your taste buds.

To grow a kitchen windowsill garden, you must provide everything Mother Nature does outdoors: light, water, soil and nutrients. Before you start, determine how much light your kitchen window receives throughout the day and then choose appropriate plants.

First, look at he windows orientation. South-facing windows receive the most light, north-facing windows receive the least. East and West are somewhat in the middle. Look outside the window for roof overhangs, large trees or buildings that can reduce the amount of light coming in. Observe the window for a day or two to determine how much these obstructions influence the incoming light.

Start with two to four herbs with the same light needs. You can plant them in one container or choose a separate container for each. You’ll be clipping these herbs frequently, so they’ll stay fairly small. If one dies or goes to seed, simply pull it out and replace it with something else.

When you plant, fill your containers with a good potting mix. Avoid using garden soil, which can harbor spores or insect eggs that you don’t want in your kitchen. An organic, all-purpose potting mix is a better choice, and will be lighter than garden soil and will drain well.

Choosing your Herbs:

Southern or Full Sun

A south facing window can support the widest herb selection. It has bright light all day with intense sunshine around midday. Monitor the herbs closely in summer and move them back from the window as the heat may be too intense.

Grow any of these sun-loving herbs: Aloe, Chives, Dill, Lavender, Nasturtium, Sweet Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage. Savory, Scented Geraniums Tarragon, and Thyme.

You can also grow shade tolerant herbs several feet away from the windowpane. Try Chevil, Lemon Balm, Mint and Sweet Woodruff.

Eastern or Full/Partial Sun

An east-facing window receives full sun for a few hours in the morning and bright light the rest of the day. You generally don’t have to worry about heat, so you can place the herbs right up against the windowpane.

Try Basil, Bay, Burnet, Parsley, Lemon Balm, Mint and Pineapple Sage.

Western or Full/Partial Sun

A west-facing window receives bright light in the morning and a few hours of full sun in the afternoon. Intense afternoon sunlight can make the window area hot in the summer. Move the herbs back from the glass if they look stresses.

Try Aloe, Basil, Parsley, Rosemary, Scented Geraniums, Terragon, and Thyme.

Northern or Low Light

Planting an herb garden in a north-facing window can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Most herbs prefer full sun and, unfortunately, you have little direct light in a northern window. The trick is to stick with herbs that prefer partial sun but can tolerate shade.

Try Bay, Chervil, Lemon Balm, Mint, Lovage, Parsley and Sweet Woodruff.

No Sunny Window?
Most herbs will grow happily under compact fluorescent placed about a foot above the plants.

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