Urban Herbs

Have you always wanted your own herb garden, but the confines of city living have hindered your growing space? Follow these steps and with the right tools, some sunshine, and a little TLC, you’ll find the recipe for success in bringing your urban herb garden to life.

>> Clear a space in a sunny spot.

Maybe it’s your windowsill, or maybe it’s your porch. Whichever space feels the most comfortable and convenient for you should be where your garden resides. However, remember to give the plants plenty of room and protection from insects, pets, or other external elements.

>> Pick out seeds or seedlings.

Visit your local farmers’ market or nursery for a broad selection of seeds. Generally, herbs such as basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, chives, mint, and sage have proven to be the most fruitful—and easiest to maintain—in smaller spaces such as a kitchen. It’s also important to get potting mix that’s certified organic to avoid coming into contact with pesticides and harmful food additives. If your soil doesn’t already have an organic fertilizer added to the mix, you’ll need extra nourishment. Try supplementing the soil with weekly applications of a diluted liquid fertilizer, such as fish emulsion, or adding organic compost. Additionally, a probiotic soil supplement will give your herbs some pop.

>> Plant.

Fill your pots or window boxes halfway with soil while making a hole for the bud. Once the seeds or seedlings have been planted, fill in the rest of the space with more potting soil and add ample amounts of water. Put the seeds in a sunny spot and keep the soil moist. You will be watching your fresh herbs grow in no time!

Harvesting your herbs:

You can begin harvesting your herbs when the plant has enough foliage to maintain growth.

If you’re a seasonal grower, you can preserve your herbs for later use in a number of ways. You can dry them naturally by hanging them upside down in small bunches. Making sure they’re completely free of outside moisture (to avoid mold), your herbs will be dried and ready in one to two weeks. For a faster method, try putting them in the oven at a low temperature for an extended period of time. Experts suggest placing your herbs on a baking sheet and letting them sit at a temperature of no more than 180 degrees for two to four hours. A food dehydrator also works well.

Another way to preserve your plants is to freeze them. First, wash the plants and then put them in boiling, filtered, unsalted water for 50 seconds. Cool them quickly in ice water, dry, and package them to be placed in the freezer.

When trying to preserve, always make sure your plants are completely dry before storage, because wet herbs will acquire mold quickly.

It is possible to maintain an indoor herb garden indefinitely by annually repotting, renewing annuals (e.g., parsley, basil), making seasonal moves outdoors for perennials (e.g. sage, mint, rosemary, chives), and pruning occasionally. Keeping your plants hydrated and making sure they get plenty of sunlight are also key.