When a recipe calls for chicken, pasta, veggies or cheese, I nod my head thinking, “Got it, got it, got it and got it.” But when moving to the bottom half of a recipe and noticing it calls for common herbs such as parsley, basil or oregano, I think, “Don’t got any of that.” I, for far too long, was deterred from preparing recipes that called for a long list of ingredients because being a college student, I normally don’t have a bountiful supply of fresh herbs on hand nor the pocket change to buy bunches of cilantro and mint.
And then I realized, the solution to end the shortage of recipe ingredients along with save money was to start my own indoor garden. By growing some common herbs such as chives or basil, I could easily save myself a trip to the grocery store, try out more recipes and best. I could experience that Christmas morning excitement when you go to check on the progress of your plants (me every morning).
“I just ordered a bag of soil on Amazon,” I tell a friend only to get the confused and “What do you need dirt for?” look. All you really need to start your own gardening project are a few supplies: rich, nutrient-filled soil, seeds, water and some type of pot or jar. Mason jars are a fun alternative to the traditional plant pot, but glass jars can stifle proper drainage and can lead to root rot. If using glass jars or containers, you can drill a hole at the bottom or simply fill about ¼ of the jar with rocks or pebbles to allow the water from the soil to drain.
Some seeds might need to germinate in water first. Germination often takes a few hours or overnight depending on the seed. You can look up seed specific information or the packet of seeds you have might give you more information like mine did. I found a muffin pan slightly filled with water was a great and easy tool to separately place seeds into little sections of water to germinate.
After you have your pot situation figured out, add soil or layer on top of your rocks or pebbles leaving room at the top. Add in your germinated seeds and add soil on top slightly packing down. Place on or near a window where your seeds will receive a large amount of sunlight per day. Water when the soil appears dry but be careful to not drown your plants.
Though gardening can be tricky and difficult to not mess up, I have no green thumb whatsoever but currently have a windowsill of growing herbs somehow. I’m sure there are way more intricate steps and tips for gardening success, but honestly, as a busy college student, all I have time or effort for is throwing some dirt and seeds into a container. Do not be discouraged if they take a few days or weeks to sprout as some of my seeds sprouted in a few days while the others took two weeks.
Note: Basil has been the most successful herb in our apartment as it appears to be pretty resilient. I gave my roommate a basil plant for her birthday last August, and though it’s seen better days, it’s still going strong, standing over a foot tall soaking up water and sunlight daily. Parsley and cilantro have proven to be trickier, growing more slowly, while my chives suddenly sprouted and grew inches in a mere week or so.
Having your own garden of herbs indoors is perfect for adding flavors to your dishes and is simpler than you think. Good luck gardening, Trojans!