Question: "I live in a high-rise apartment and am thinking about starting an indoor herb garden (basil, Italian parsley) in the fall. Is there anything I should know about timing of planting, if it’s going to be exclusively indoors?"
Answer: You can grow many herbs satisfactorily indoors as long as you can give them the conditions they need. A sunny south or southeast window that gets at least five to six hours of sun per day is perfect. Fluorescent lights are an alternative if you don’t have a sunny window. You’ll need to place the lights close to the plants (six to 12 inches) and keep them turned on for about 12 hours per day.
If you are so inclined, you can start herbs from seed. Carefully follow the instructions on the packet. Parsley can take up to a month to germinate, so you have to be patient with this one. Basil, however, germinates very quickly. The alternate and easiest method is to buy small plants from your local nursery. I recommend re-potting the plants into larger containers for best results. The containers should be at least six inches wide and six to 12 inches deep, especially for Italian parsley which has a long tap root. Use a commercial potting mix. Never use soil out of the garden which can harbour bugs and/or diseases. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Wet roots are death to most plants. Snip your plants often to encourage them to grow bushy, but don’t take more than 1/3 of the plant’s foliage off at one time. Other good herbs to try indoors are chervil, chives and thyme. I also like to grow rosemary indoors, though I have found that it likes tons of light…more than I can give it. I admit that by the time spring arrives, my rosemary looks pretty pathetic. Still, it’s fun to try and for a few months I have fresh rosemary to add to my dishes.
Answer provided by Veronica Sliva, Regional Director, Garden Writers Association.
This column was originally posted on the Foodnetwork.ca Eating Well site.
Gardening Advice is featured on Style Sheet on Tuesdays.