Justin W. Hancock

Enjoy Fresh Herbs

If you’re feeling like me and you long for fresh herbs but the weather’s gone cold, don’t despair — try growing herbs indoors. It’s actually pretty easy, as long as you have a bright spot (such as an unobstructed west- or south-facing window) to grow them in.

The key is realizing that most herbs don’t love growing inside — so you really need to consider them short-term plants (especially annual varieties such as basil). You may get a month, maybe two, from most of your plants before they fade away. Don’t feel bad about losing them by spring — herbs are not meant to be long-lived houseplants. And as long as you use them in cooking or baking, or even just to rub the leaves a few times and enjoy that fresh scent as a way of getting over cabin fever, you’ll probably find they’re worth the investment.

Here are some tips if you’d like to try growing herbs in your home this winter.

> They need bright light. If you don’t have a large sunny window, get an inexpensive shop light from your local hardware store and hang it about 8 inches above your plants. They’ll do just as well — if not better — in artificial light.

> Don’t love them too much. Most herbs prefer well-drained soil and would rather be a bit too dry than a bit too wet. Be sure to let the top inch or so of the potting mix dry out before you water them again.

> Give them drainage. It’s important that the roots don’t stand in water, so grow your herbs in a container that has drainage holes so excess moisture can escape.

> Protect them from drafts. Blasts of cold or hot air (from doors, windows, or heating vents) can quickly sap the life from your plants.