Even if you live in a tiny urban space, you can still grow your own food. Sure, it won’t be a full-blown farm, but you can at least get enough plants going to add a little extra flavor to any meal. We’re talking about kitchen herbs. After all, there’s nothing better than adding freshly picked basil to a salad or throwing in fresh thyme into an omelette.
The beauty of it is that there are a lot of herbs that grow well indoors, which is ideal if you don’t have any room outside to build a glorious spread of raised beds. All you need is a window that gets about five to six hours of sunlight a day. Then plant a few herbs in individual pots — or in a handmade window box perhaps? — and you’re off and racing with your windowsill garden.
Even if you don’t have a spot that gets full sunlight, there are a handful of herbs that do well in shadier spots, particularly soft, leafy herbs like chives, parsley, mint and tarragon.
You can grow basil from seeds or buy sprouts at your local farmers market. Basil loves the sun, so keep it in a windowsill that stays warm — preferably south-facing. The fun thing about basil is also that it comes in many different varieties, so you can try everything from lemon basil to red basil.
Mint grows fast and in abundance; in fact if it shares a pot with other herbs it is known to overtake them. Just like basil, there are plenty of varieties to experiment with. And it means you can make your own mint juleps!
Chives are a great addition to any meal, with a similar flavor to onions. You want to be sure to cut down to the soil level to promote new growth.
Cilantro. grows fast, but once it’s picked it doesn’t regrow, which means if you want a lot of it, have a few pots in rotation. This herb grows best directly from seeds, which means you don’t need to track down a seedling.
Freshly chopped parlsey is always a nice garnish to add to a meal, and this herb still does well even when it doesn’t have too much sunlight. While it prefers full sun, it can be placed in an east- or west-facing window. When harvesting it, you want to be sure to cut the outer leaves which promotes new growth from the center.
If you’re wanting to experiment with drying your own herbs, oregano is a great one to start with. The herb does well indoors and you can start with a tip cutting from an outdoor plant. Just be sure it gets good sunlight.
Rosemary likes drier climates, so it is a good herb for those who think they don’t have a green thumb. But be careful; while it does like dry soil, you don’t want the soil to dry out completely or the plant will die. You can start your own rosemary plant with a simple cutting.
If you want to grow sage indoors, you want to make sure you have a south-facing window with lots of light as it needs about six to eight hours of sun a day. You can use it fresh, or even dry it.
Tarragon isn’t as common as some of the herbs on this list, and all the more reason to start growing it. It’s a strong flavored herb, similar to anise.
Thyme can do well in indirect light, which makes it a good option if your windowsill isn’t basking in sun all day long. Cut back the woody stems on the plant to promote new growth.
Photo Credit: Ashley Coombs