Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Aspen Orton
For many people, living through the winter months with a smile on their face can be a trial, if not nearly impossible. Not being able to traipse around outside with the grass between your toes and fragrant dirt under your fingernails can drop endorphin levels like the temperature in January. One way to beat back the winter blues is to start your own garden in your kitchen; yes, that’s right, your very own garden in the center of your home.
Not every plant flourishes in the winter, inside or out. Herbs, by nature, are naturally resilient and can thrive just about anywhere, including the kitchen. Herbs are also very low maintenance and can turn even the blandest meal or soup into a family sensation. A few winter herbs that don’t seem to mind the snow outside and the heater at full blast inside are rosemary, mint, sage, and thyme.
A simple, even elementary, way of growing sweet herbs in your kitchen is to grow them in the plastic trays you buy some of your produce in, like strawberries and raspberries. When the produce has run out, don’t throw the trays away, but rinse and keep the trays to grow your herbs in. When the trays have been rinsed and dried, line them with a few layers of dampened paper towels and sprinkle the seeds onto the paper towels in the trays. Now, the trick to getting the gentle herbs to flourish is to give them the right amount of light that they need; or in other words to trick them into thinking that the world is still warm outside. The plants need to grow new leaves that have adjusted to the lower levels of light in a house, and these new leaves can be the difference between beautiful green life and dried up death, so make sure to take the time to acclimate them.
The best way to get the plants used to poor light is to store the trays in a cool dark place. Jill Ettinger from Organic Authority says that keeping the herbs in a paper grocery bag in a dark cool place can be very beneficial and help the plants to germinate, and when they are about an inch tall, move them in celebration toward the windowsill. Now the best thing for the plants is southern light exposure. I have heard from many reputable sources that a yin and yang balance of light and shade are needed to keep the seedlings moist, otherwise excessive sun will dry them out.
After a few weeks when the plants are several inches tall you can trim (trim being the key word, you don’t want to cut them down to the quick) the fresh herbs and use them at your pleasure to spice and enlighten all your many delicious winter meals. Don’t let the winter blues keep you from enhancing your green thumb, but let the winter months be a “warm-up” for spring fever by growing your own delicious green herbs in your kitchen window.
Jill Ettinger-Guide to 5 Indoor Winter Gardening Sensations-Organic Authority.com
Gail Kavanagh-Growing and Storing Herbs in Winter-Do It Yourself.com
Picture-Mountain Valley Growers.com