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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

Green Kitchen: Growing a Windowsill Herb Garden

by Kristin Standley

Tags: gardening, fresh herbs, container gardening, herb garden, green kitchen, recipes,

Only two weeks ago I moved out of my tiny New York dorm room and into an even tinier apartment. But while my new home might be a little lacking in space, it has one feature that more than makes up for it: windows. Big, beautiful, sun-filled windows.

So to bring a little green into my crazy city life, I’m lining my windowsills with plants— herbs to be exact. Not only does an herb garden brighten up your house, but it also gives you a constant supply of fresh herbs to use in cooking, garnish your dishes, or even infuse your favorite tea. Starting an herb garden on your windowsill is actually fairly simple.

First, find a south or southwest facing window. These get the most light during the day, and you want your plants to get at least 4 to 6 hours of sunlight. Next, look for a container that will fit on your windowsill. You can use anything as long as it won’t melt in the sun and has good drainage. Because of the drainage you will also want a reservoir bowl or saucer to place under your pot to keep your sill dry. If you live somewhere that gets very cold, you might want to invest in a terra-cotta pot which will insulate your plants during the winter.

Now, fill your container with potting soil or a soilless potting mix. Don’t use dirt from your garden since the soil composition is not good for growing plants indoors! Gently place your plants in the pot and fill with soil, making sure to leave plenty of room for growth and at least an inch at the top for watering.

One of the trickiest parts of gardening is knowing how often to water your plants, and being very careful not to over water them. You should only water your herbs when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch.

To keep your herbs thriving, you can fertilize them by adding a little compost to the soil every 6 to 8 weeks. I have an indoor composter which turn my kitchen scraps into excellent plant food. It’s an easy, green way to dispose of odds and ends without throwing them away.  

Now you can have fresh herbs year-round.

windowsill herb garden
Deep windowsills like this one are the perfect for growing herbs. Photo By Greg Palmer/Courtesy Flickr 

Herbs that grow well indoors include rosemary, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, chives, oregano, mint, sage, cilantro and dill. Chives are particularly easy to grow and good for someone unsure of how green their thumb may be. Mint comes in many varieties and has a strong, fragrant aroma. It is often used in soups, salads, or tea. Parsley is a good choice if you like to garnish your dishes.

One of my favorite herbal recipes is a honey mustard glaze that I use with ham or pork tenderloin roasts. All you need is:

• 2 tbsp country dijon mustard

• 1-2 tbsp honey

• 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped

Mix the mustard and the honey in a small dish. I usually use 1 or 1 1/2 tbsp of honey, although you can add more if you prefer a sweeter taste. Add the chopped rosemary and drizzle on top of the meat before cooking.