Plant Babies

Planting an Indoor Herb Garden

The other night a friend and I went to Gethsemane Garden Center in Andersonville and I picked up basil, lavender, chives, oregano, mint and rosemary. I also got a flowering plant for my patio. I have a great patio, but the problem is it is all shade almost all day. The herbs are actually going in my West facing window because they get a lot of sunshine.
I gathered up my pots (I have an odd assortment of 1950's McCoy planter pots), grabbed the rocks and potting soil I bought at the garden center and got dirty. Since my pots do not have any drainage I sprinkled about an 1-2" of river rock in the bottom. This way the water will drain into the rocks and not rot the roots. I got organic peat potting soil that is 'light'. Since I knew I did not have much drainage I wanted to make sure there was room in the soil.
Next I put dirt in the pot and scooped out the section that the plant was going to go into. Then grasping the plant gently at the part closest to the soil I tip it over and it slides into my hand. If it does not slide out of the cup, I tug it gently free. Then place the plant in the hole you have created. You want it so the top part of the soil of the plant is almost flush with the top of your pot. Mound the soil around the plant and press it down gently. The reason I mound the soil close to the top is because it will settle.
Sometimes you will have a plant that has been in the pot so long that it has become root bound, which means its roots need a place to go. My basil was root bound and the pots the seedlings are grown in have holes. I gently loosened the roots and trimmed them along the outside of the pot. After that my basil slid free.
Hard to tell, but that blob of dirt at the bottom of the pot are the roots growing through the pot. 
I put my basil and chives in the same pot because both of them are quite hardy and if they try to duke it out they probably both will survive. Same with the mint and oregano. My rosemary was also bursting at the seams and so the pot I put it in is a bit too small and I will have to transplant it soon.  Looks like I get to go antique shopping. I had one other pot that was a bit taller then the rest and so I think the lavender plant will do well in there.

If you know someone who is a gardener you can save up the pots the plants came in and give them to a gardener to use in the future.
A note on watering-wait until the soil is almost all the way dry and then give them a sip of water. Water slowly until water pools on the top of the soil and then move on to the next plants. Come back around and do the same thing, let the water pool on the top. Now your plants are nice and hydrated. Once a month or so, I usually put all my plants in the bathtub and give them a shower.
If you have been regularly watering and your babies are getting the appropriate amount of sun and they seem lethargic, then chances are you may be overwatering. Let them dry out and then reintroduce watering. When I say dry out, I mean check the soil every day and when you poke your finger in and don't feel wetness, then give them a drink.
I've had herbs last almost into the winter and some of them will come back with a bit of care and coaxing year after year. A small herb garden is a small investment, especially if you use upcycled materials for the pots, but the payoff is huge. I have fresh herbs to use while cooking, plus mint to use in drinks, and my apartment just feels happier. Some days when the sun beats down on the lavender and the scent fills the air I'm transported to the time I spent in Madrid and I pour myself a Calimocho and relax.
Now go make babies!

Originally published 5/28/13

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