As winter stretches on, we need all the reminders of the growing season we can get. Fortunately, you can have summer on your windowsill. Imagine the aromatherapy and the fresh flavors of July in your January kitchen.
Fortunately at this time of year many garden centers have small pots of herbs in their greenhouses. If your garden center closes for the winter, look for potted herbs near the produce section of a large supermarket. They are usually easy to find and inexpensive. Here’s what you need to know to keep them growing well in your kitchen.
- You’ll want to repot the herbs right away. The small pots they come in dry out quickly and don’t have enough root room to support a plant’s larger growth. Get a pot that’s at least 6 to 8 inches wide.
- Notice that there are several stems of basil in those pots, while the rosemary and thyme have only one plant in the container. This is because you will harvest some entire basil plants instead of just taking off the leaves. Most people use more basil than they do other herbs. Be prepared to cut entire stems of basil as you use it until you’re left with one to three plants that are growing larger in your pot.
- Fill that pot with new potting soil to just under one inch from the top of the pot. No rocks, shards or other clutter in the bottom please! And no piece of paper towel, screen or sea shell over the drainage hole…the soil won’t fall out.
- Take the pot of soil to the sink and spritz them really well with water so that they’re thoroughly saturated. Let the pots sit in the sink for a few minutes to drain.
- Use your hand to gently make a hole in the damp soil that’s more or less the size of the potted herb. Take the herb out of its small, plastic pot and place it in the hole. Gently press the damp soil around the herb. Don’t push hard as this takes the air spaces out of the pot; a plant’s roots grow into those air spaces.
- Add more soil to the top of the pot if needed but don’t bury the stems of the herbs much – let the surface of the soil they grew in be the surface after you’ve repotted them.
- Water your newly potted herbs and place them on a sunny windowsill. I like the look of these pots on thrift-store plates because it’s especially appropriate in a kitchen.
- Don’t be afraid to harvest your herbs: you need the boost that the fragrance of basil and rosemary will give! We’ll feature a recipe for some fresh-cut herbs next week on Wednesday is for Foodies. You will be able to plant your Thyme in the ground next spring. The Rosemary can either stay in this pot for a couple of years or it can be planted in the ground outdoors. The basil will all be eaten by spring!