Window Box Gardening…so jealous. I live in a basement apartment, so my kitchen doesn’t have a window at all – and the rest of the windows are very small and don’t let in much light. However, I’ve done it before, and I can’t wait to have windows to do it again. It’s a spectacular money saver, especially with your favorite herbs. I grew Basil, Dill, and Cilantro when I was younger. The dill was a monster! It’s definitely called dill “weed” for a reason!

But obviously you can grow pretty much anything you like for your window box. Our basil turned into a miniature tree in it’s tiny pot, and it was so strong. I think my mom finally replanted it outside and it died with winter – but we got a lot of basil out of it until then. I didn’t have as much luck with cilantro, but then I have never been as fond of it, so I didn’t exactly work to cultivate the stuff. I’ve heard mint is pretty easy to grow. Thyme, tarragon, rosemary and sage all work well in the indoor garden. I’ve heard of success with oregano as well, and it’s one I’m personally interested in, due to a love affair with oregano. Sorry, Josh.

I am quite sure others would work just fine, however, these are ones I have either seen work well, or have read accounts of other’s success. Now, you should look up to see which is easiest to grow from for each plant – mint, for example, should be cultivated from a seedling, rather than a seed, and cilantro is meant to be grown from seeds (namely, coriander). Tarragon, on the other hand, you should buy an established plant of, and expect that it will spread like dill or asparagus. Basil you need seeds for, etc. So look that up.

Then, either build a box to fit the inside of your chosen windowsill – it should be well-lit, but it shouldn’t sped too much time in direct sunlight – or purchase one at your local gardening or home shop. Now is a great time, because anything they have left will be super dirt cheap, and you’re growing these things inside. Trust me, they don’t mind that there is snow on the ground! However, if you can’t find any strong seedlings, do wait. More on this later.

Anyway, so get your box and mount it according to the instructions. (This is a food blog, not a home improvement blog, I don’t know how to do these things.) Anyway, so once that’s done, be sure to line it with a plastic pot-container. These should be easy to find in garden shops – it keeps dirt from getting all over your kitchen. I’m sure the person in charge of mopping the floor appreciates it.  So fill this with potting soil, good quality. We’re talking a very small amount, so get a teeny little bag of the GOOD stuff. Save what’s left, there will always be soil erosion when you water, and I’ve never heard of dirt going bad. Oh, while you’re getting all that stuff, looking for herbs…

If you’re not going with seeds,look for seedlings that have any yellow tinges, spots, or have leaves that are oddly shaped. If there are any of these signs, LEAVE IT. While herbs are infinitely easier to grow than even the easiest of fruit-bearing plants, a diseased plant means stuff you can’t eat, and that’s not the point of this venture. If you are in the market for seeds, check for an expiration date. Yes, seeds do have them (you might need to wait until spring), just like those spices in your cupboard do that you never think about. Low-quality, expired seeds simply might not sprout at all. Waste of time and space, also not the point of this venture.

So, you have herbs, you have good potting soil, you have a box. Separate the box into 3 sections, more if it’s huge, and label it. Even if you do remember (or simply know by looking), you’ll get fewer questions from everyone else that way.

Seeds need to be germinated, or soaked for a few hours. Get two paper towels nice and wet and stick your seeds in between. Let ’em sit for 2-4 hours like that, and then sprinkle them in your box, covered with 1/4″ of soil (unless otherwise marked on the seed packet, of course). For seedlings and plants, there should be a dirt “chunk” where they came out of the little plastic thingie. First massage this dirt ball – those little baby roots have been crammed and jammed in there. You want to send the message that they have room to grow. Then, put that earth into the soil, covering it completely. It should require a 2-3″ hole or so. Now, let these sit in a dark-ish, warm place until all the seeds have sprouted. Just take the plastic thing out and set it on a plate or something on top of the fridge. Water whenever it feels kind of dry. When there are lots of little green heads, move to the mounted herb-box.

Now, wait. Watering with a spray bottle is a good idea, it’ll keep from beating up on your very delicate baby plants. Again – whenever the dirt feels dry.

Wait. If ever the box feels overcrowded, snip unwanted extras out with a pair of kitchen shears. Don’t rip out all the roots, let them rot in there. Free fertilizer. Once your herbs are much more established, go ahead and rip out excessive plants – you can transplant these outside, to your neighbor’s garden as a gift (make sure it’s wanted?),  to eat, etc.

Also! Don’t be shy about yanking the leaves off of your plants. Okay, don’t yank, gently snip or lightly tug. But so long as you always leave a sprig and a couple of leaves, it’ll keep coming back – and the more leaves you take off, the more the plant will replace for you. And besides, isn’t eating the leaves what you planted them for?