...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Replanting herbs

I'm going to try to find out if we can grow herbs in the kitchen all year. I don't have a reputation for having a green thumb and I've never grown anything from seed. I have, however, grown some decorative plants in the apartment from cuttings, and judging from the fact that they're all still thriving (growing new leaves all the time, too!), I guess that I could be a decent enough gardener to upgrade to edibles. Herbs are a good start; I can buy them grown, they can grow on the windowsill and they require little maintenance. Or so I think.

These are some parsley and chives that we bought from the grocery – you know, those fresh herbs you can buy in tiny seed pots. I found that if you keep them in their seed pots on a shallow basin of water, they actually live long until a point when they start wilting and yellowing. The chives in the picture have actually survived in the apartment for more than a month now. Problem is, I think it was on its way to dying; the leaves are thin and I had to pluck out a handful (literally) of dead leaves. A friend suggested that they needed more soil... Now why didn't I think of that?

I spent last night Googling up how to grow herbs in the kitchen and I seriously considered having a pot of herbs in the kitchen to be here for more than just a month at a time. We also took a trip to a plant store and had a conversation with the gardener, who was very informative. Here are some tips:

- Herbs need a lot of sun, but can also tolerate some shadow (especially parsley). The best situation would of course be if we lived in the same latitudes as the Mediterranean, but in northern latitudes, a window facing to the south would be ideal. Our kitchen window faces west and has a good amount of sun after lunch... in spring and summer. I'll worry about autumn and winter later, but I guess we'd probably have to substitute sunlight with a lamp. If the herbs get too little light, they will grow thin and long ("leggy"); this is a sign that you should move them to a sunnier place.

- Herbs don't like dry air and prefer humid environments. Websites recommend either placing the pot over a basin of pebbles and filling the basin occasionally, or spraying the leaves with water. Alternatively, you could keep the window open, if it's not too cold.

- Herbs need good drainage.The soil can't be too soaked or the leaves will turn yellow. The gardener at the shop assured me that you don't need to line the bottom of the pot with pebbles to achieve this. All you actually need is a terra cotta pot with a drainage hole and one of those neat little saucers to put under it, if you're growing the plants indoors. Terra cotta pots "breathe" and let out extra moisture through its walls. With a saucer, there's no risk of over-watering since water just goes through and fills the saucer when the plant has had enough.

- Herbs compete. Plant different herbs in different pots, and use big pots.

- Herbs need nutrients – the gardener recommended using liquid fertilizer once a week. Finally, I have a use for that bottle of fertilizer we have! Oh yeah, and always wash the herbs before use.

I've followed the instructions... now wish me luck on developing a green thumb or two.


Blogger aka Cheryl said...

good luck! sounds exciting :D

7:24 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Planting herbs, exciting? hehe! Truth be told, I've been looking at the herbs at an hourly basis since I replanted them looking for any changes :-P

7:42 PM


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