Grace’s Gardening Tips

Seed tapes make planting easier and more hassle-free.

(Posted: Spring 2014; archived: July 2014)

How many times have you sowed a handful of tiny seeds –- basil, thyme, or other herb seeds — only to have too many of them come up so close together that you had to thin them out? This is just one of the common problems you can eliminate by using seed tapes!

Other advantages of using seed tapes for planting outside are that you spend less time fumbling with tiny seed while out in the elements, you have better control of plant spacing, and you can precisely figure out if you’ll need more seeds before you even put the first one in the ground. Additionally, since tiny seeds barely need to be covered, having them attached to paper makes it easier to see just how much soil you’re putting on top of them.

Seed tapes are basically just strips of paper that have seeds embedded in them for precision planting. You can buy them ready-made at nurseries, but it is way more fun to make your own. And, if you have children or grandchildren who like to garden or whom you would like to interest in gardening, they’ll love making and planting their own seed tapes.

There are two different approaches to making your own seed tapes.

MAKING SEED TAPES USING ELMER’S SCHOOL GLUE

Materials needed: Seeds, a cheap roll of toilet tissue, and a squeeze bottle of Elmer’s Glue (the white kind used for grade school art projects). Because it dissolves in water, Elmer’s Glue will let the seeds grow and is non-toxic.

Step 1 – Tear off appropriate lengths of tissue. You can roll the tissue out to the full length of your garden row, or tear off shorter pieces if you will be planting in containers or want to plant your seeds in small clusters rather than long rows.

Step 2 – Apply glue to the tissue. Starting a one end of the tissue and moving toward the other, squeeze out small dots of glue at evenly spaced intervals, however far apart you want your plants to be. For most plantings, three inches is a good spacing to start with since some of the seeds may not germinate. Whether you put them all in a single straight line or stagger your glue dots in a zigzag pattern down the length of the tissue is entirely up to you and how you want your plant rows to look.

Step 3 – Attach the seeds. Using your fingers or tweezers, drop one seed onto each dot of glue. (Ignorable note: I like to use extra-long tweezers that were given to me as a remembrance of the event by the doctor who removed my gall bladder.) If you’re gluing your seeds in a single straight row, keep the row towards one side of the tissue strip, rather than in the center; that way you can fold the empty half of the strip over on top of the seeds while the glue is still wet to more securely anchor them. It’s a little bit neater and easier to handle and doesn’t affect the seeds ability to sprout through the paper.

Step 4 – Allow adequate drying time. Once the glue has completely dried, you can roll up your seed tapes and store them in envelopes until you’re ready to plant them. Be sure to label each envelope with the name of the plant seeds. You might also want to make notes about the planting and watering instructions from the seed package or just tuck the empty seed package in the envelope with the seed tapes.
 

MAKING SEED TAPES USING THE CORN STARCH METHOD

Materials needed: Seeds; 1 tablespoon of corn starch; 1 cup cold water; paper towels cut into 1½ to 2 inch wide strips and folded in half; one drop of food coloring (any color); and an 8-ounce or larger empty squeeze bottle.

Step 1 – Prepare the “seed glue.” Dissolve cornstarch in water over a medium heat until it boils and thickens. Mixture should look opaque and cling slightly to a fork before dripping off. Let it cool and then transfer to the squeeze bottle adding the 1 drop of food coloring (to make it easier to see for later steps). Shake well.

Step 2 – Apply glue mixture to paper towels. Lay the paper towel strips out flat and place evenly-spaced dots of the cornstarch glue down one side of the center fold-mark. Space the dots according to the planting directions of the seed packets.

Step 3 – Add seeds. Place one one seed in the center of each dot of glue mixture. Fold the paper towel strips in half so the seeds are covered and leave the seed tapes to dry.

Step 4 – Keep dry until planting time. Store in plastic bags or air-tight containers until you are ready to plant the seeds. If you will not be using them in a day or two, it is best to store your seed tapes in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator. You may also want to store the empty seed packets or notes about planting instructions with the seed tapes.
 

Whichever method you use to prepare your seed tapes, the planting procedures are the same. Water the soil where you want to plant, then rake and and smooth the surface. Unroll your seed tape on top of the soil, and then lightly sprinkle soil over it. Check the seed package for instructions for specific types of seeds. In most cases, seeds only need a very thin covering of soil and it’s okay if some of the paper shows through a bit. (It will quickly disintegrate and decompose into the ground.)


What fun! Starting seeds indoors

(Posted: February 2013; archived: April 2013)

February is here and time to start thinking about getting a head start on gardening. I like to plant seeds indoors and have plants ready to set out around Mother’s Day. That’s the appointed time in our zone 6.

I raise herbs and a few veggies, but all my plants are in containers and four raised beds. Last summer I had one hundred pots of herbs throughout my yard. I furnished herbs for my neighbors and my church people all summer.

I brought some of these inside to winter over. It was so great to have Lemon Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Cilantro, Oregano and Stevia inside, just to snip for cooking or making tea. Lemon Thyme and Rosemary tea are great to drink if you have a sinus congestion or sore throat, just add some stevia (the sweet leaf plant) or honey to your tea.

If you are an avid gardener or just want a couple of tomato plants or a window sill herb garden, start thinking about planting some seeds right now.

A neat game to play with your family is to come up with some unusual containers to start your seeds. Look for ordinary containers in your kitchen that can be recycled for this purpose. Here are a few ideas:

egg cartons; butter tubs; plastic fast food containers; yogurt or applesauce cups; plastic meat trays; and paper or plastic milk jugs;

Another fun and functional recycling trick is to use empty toilet paper rolls. Wrap them in newspaper and fasten the ends of the newspaper that extend beyond the roll with rubber bands. Set them in the ground as is, just remove the rubber band and the paper will dissolve as the plant grows.

Let your imagination run wild with other ideas, JUST BE SURE ALL YOUR CONTAINERS HAVE GOOD DRAINAGE. (This means at least one hole in the bottom so excess water can escape.)

Buying new containers is also possible but less environmentally-friendly. It’s your choice. So is the decision to purchase a bag of potting mix from your local garden center or to make your own.

Making your own potting mix is as easy as combining one part peat moss, one part perlite, and one part vermiculite and thoroughly mixing them all together.

Enjoy your seed starting venture, if what you do does not turn out as your think it should – TRY, TRY AGAIN! – And remember, there are no mistakes, just fun gardening time.


New offerings from the 2013 seed catalogs

(Posted: January 2013; archived: April 2013)

Every year I eagerly wait for the latest crop of seed and garden catalogs to arrive. When they come, I sit back with a nice cup of herbal tea to browse through them and dream of the upcoming planting season. Here are some of new offerings I found for 2013.

BURPEE CATALOG:

Stevia Honeydip is a tall plant that claims to be sweeter than the regular Stevia.

Crocodile Hybrid Spinach has dark green, semi-savory leaves. It is a great producer and heat-tolerant. Great as a baby leaf for salads.

COOK’S GARDEN CATALOG:

Green leaf basil has huge, crinkly, lettuce-like leaves that measure 3-inches long by 2 inches wide. Great for pesto.

Sorrel is blood-veined and very tangy, great in salads and for stir frying. Harvest before leaves get tough.

Mint and clove-scented basil are super for jams, jellies and herbal tea. Grows 18 to 24 inches tall.

Licorice basil is a small Thai variety, great with fish and fruit dishes. The leaves are purple-flushed with rose-colored stems.

GURNEY’S CATALOG:

Aristotle basil is highly aromatic with very tiny leaves and white flowers. No need to chop this basil. I found a plant last year that grew to be 2 feet wide and very dense, but this is the first time it’s been available in a seed catalog.

JOHNNY’S CATALOG:

Rani Cilantro is now available as organic seed. Don’t forget last year’s Confetti cilantro, with frilly leaves and great flavor, it’s very slow to bolt.

JUNG’S SEEDS:

Crimson King Basil is a Genovese type with purple leaves and violet stems that have a spicy, clove flavor.

Oregano with a hot & spicy flavor, much stronger than Italian oregano.

Rosemary, a creeping variety, great for making wreaths and a good ground cover.

Tango Lettuce has exceptionally crisp, finely frilled leaves. The dark green leaves form an upright rosette.

PINETREE GARDEN: CATALOG:

Mitsuba Japanese Parsley is a super aromatic herb for Japanese cuisine that has a parsley, celery essence. The leaves are slender white stalks, and the roots can be used for soups, rice and fish dishes.

Choi Sum has baby leaves that have a light broccoli/chard flavor.

Mizuna is a red-streaked mustard with serrated leaves and a zingy peppery flavor.

STOKES CATALOG:

Eowyn Basil is a dwarf, compact variety with a great summer shelf life.

Cristal Fennel is an annual, medium-erect plant with dark green foliage and a round crispy white head.

TERRITORIAL CATALOG:

Perilla (Shiso) – The red variety tastes like anise but with a touch of mint. The green variety has a cinnamon–clove essence. They’re great in salads and for stir frying.

Dragon Tongue Mustard is a very pretty mustard green with frilly, crinkled leaves with purple veins and thick white ribs. Lightly spicy.

Hopley’s Purple Oregano has deep green foliage and showy purple flowers which look great in dried flower arrangements. It also has a light flavor and makes a great ornamental plant. Butterflies love it, but deer do not.

Mozart Rosemary is a compact, semi-upright rosemary. Its bluish-purple blooms are very bright.

Purple Sage has beautiful purple leaves that compliment a perennial garden. Its flavor is the same as green sage.

WHITE FLOWER FARM:

Rosemary (gorizia) has long, broad leaves extending from thick upright stems blushed with a reddish brown. Leaves are fat and long, double the size of ordinary varieties. It has a very gentle sweet, gingery aroma. Hardy to about 15 degrees F.


Consider planting a fall herb garden

(First posted: September 2012; archived: November 2012)

If this summer’s heat and lack of rain frazzled your summer herb garden, why not get out now and try planting some herbs for fall?

It’s been a frustrating summer with the constant need to get out early in the morning to water, weed, and try to salvage what we can from our gardens. I may have been a little luckier than many. My garden gets sun from dawn to around 2:00 in the afternoon and is shaded the rest of the day. This helped me salvage and share at least some of my herbs with friends and neighbors. I’m now drying them for winter use.

But, I still want more herbs to meet all my cooking needs. Fortunately, I know from experience that a fall harvest may be my best solution. Maybe it will work for you, too.

Here are a few favorite herbs you can still plant for a fall harvest. – If you get them in the ground now, there’s should still be plenty of time for them to catch some sun and grow during our usually cooler fall weather.

  • BASIL is a wonderful choice for second plantings. It loves cool weather and will thrive in the warm days and cool nights of fall. If you expect a wet fall, leave enough room between your plants for air to circulate and dry the leaves each day. Basil is fast growing and if your fall comes early, there is enough time for a quick crop. If an early frost is expected, be sure to cover your plants.
  • CILANTRO loves the cool weather of the spring and fall. If you let your summer cilantro reseed itself, you may find that some new plants will come up for fall. Or, you can replant it yourself. Typically, I do several plantings spaced out all through the summer to ensure that I have plenty of fresh cilantro available. “Confetti” is a new variety that is very slow to bolt and looks very much like a dill plant. It also has a milder flavor than many other varieties. Cilantro can tolerate some frost.
  • DILL is another of those herbs that loves the cool weather, but it may not grow all the way into a huge plant by the time frost arrives. You can, however, enjoy the foliage for an extended season. The fern leaf dill varieties are loaded with delicious leaves.
  • PARSLEY is wonderful to grow in the fall. It doesn’t require the heat of the sun to grow well, and it is often still available in garden shops and greenhouses. Parsley is also a great way to add fresh green in the fall season when many other plants have died back. Try planting it as a backdrop to some of the fall season flowers that you may grow.

If you want to learn more about fall herb gardens or about fall maintenance tips for your regular herb garden, visit the following website: Your Guide to Herb Gardens. It’s the work of a woman named Amy Jeanroy and is one of the many specialized and highly-informative websites maintained by The New York Times under the umbrella title of www.about.com. I found it very helpful.


New varieties in the 2012 seed catalogs  

(Archived: June 2012)

Each year I eagerly await the arrival of new seed and garden catalogs. When they come, I sit back with a nice cup of herbal tea, browse through them, and dream of the planting season. Here’s some of what I found for 2012…

BLUESTONE PERENNIALS CATALOG:

Nepeta subsessillis (Candy Cat) is a Catmint that is 24 to 30 inches high. Large clusters of lavender pink flowers are held up by lance-shaped, lightly toothed deep-green foliage. This Catmint has large flower clusters that crown individual stalks. A moist site is preferred, native of the mountain slopes of Japan. A great container plant.

Nepeta (Cool Cat) is med/tall, 24-36 inches. Cool shades of lavender-blue flowers adorn aromatic green foliage. Provides upright, long-blooming mounded flowers.

Monarda (Bee Balm): Lambada is a medium 24 inch plant. Pale purple towers of blossoms are stacked on atop another. The narrow tapered foliage shows great resistance to mildew. A very different look for Monarda.

BURPEE CATALOG:

Cilantro Confetti has frilly leaves and a subtle taste. Its leaves are great for bunching and for garnish. Confetti’s unique shape means the leaves are more susceptible to leaf damage. The finely cut foliage is easy to trim and mince. It is an excellent plant for containers. Sow seed every three weeks to have cilantro for use all summer.

TERRITORIAL CATALOG:

Basil Profumo is a compact Genovese-type basil that has a true, clean flavor and the spirited aroma is just right for preparing recipes that call for classic Basil taste. The brilliant green, oval leaves grow densely on mounding plants for many harvests throughout the season. Profumo’s disease resistance and compact habit makes it a great choice for containers. Territorial Seeds sells it as a plant or as seeds.

Pesto Perpetua (basil) was new a couple years ago, but is hard to find. Territorial has it for sale as a plant only. This basil has green and cream leaves and grows in a pyramid shape. It has a spicy clove taste and aroma. Perpetua makes wonderful pesto.

Sprintor Caraway (carum carvi) differs from Ferny-leaved Caraway which is a biennial and produces its seed the second year. Sprintor won’t keep you waiting; it flowers and sets seed the first year. The leaves and seeds are both used for cooking. The leaves are great chopped and used in soups or salads.

Amethyst Falls (oregano) is a gem of an herb. This dazzling ornamental oregano boasts cascades of chartreuse, hop-shaped blooms, with purple-pink florets. The foliage is lightly fragrant and gray-green in color. It is great in containers and hanging baskets, or rock gardens hanging over a wall. It is edible, but is considered more for ornamental display.

I hope you enjoy your seed catalogs as much as I enjoy mine. And remember, they’re not just for new ideas. They’ll also tell you about your favorite standbys, even those you may not have planted for years.


Ten herbs to consider planting this year          

(Archived: June 2012)

The National Garden Bureau and the Herb Society of America recently issued a joint recommendation of the 10 best herbs for planting in home herb gardens during 2012. Most are long-time favorites of the Northern Kentucky Herb Society, so we’re sure to be talking about them during our meetings and on our website during this year.

If you haven’t already made plans to plant them, perhaps you should. Here, very briefly, are my summary impressions of each of them for your consideration.

BASIL

Basil is easy to grow and can be started from seed indoors or, after all frosts are over, can be sown in the ground. It loves a sunny window but is not fussy. The more you trim it, the faster it grows. Read more about basil in the Favorite Herbs section of our website.

CHIVES

Chives are a cheery herb, growing indoors and out. Snip them all year around for a light, onion-flavored addition to a recipe. Chives make a great garnish for food. They have beautiful purple flowers which are also edible. They are a very easy herb for the beginner to grow.

CILANTRO

Cilantro is refreshing and bright tasting herb. It likes cool weather, so plant it early in the spring and fall. Planting cilantro in successive sowings will let you have plenty for all your needs.

DILL

Dill is another beloved herb. We all know its taste from our favorite pickles, but it is also great with fish dishes. Grow dill indoors and out. The new Fernleaf Dill has an abundance of leaves to use while you’re waiting for the large Dukat Dill to flower. Make successive plantings of dill to have enough on hand all the time. Read more about dill in our Favorite Herbssection.

LAVENDER

Lavender – you either love it or hate it for its scent. True lavender has a scent that is in a class of its own. There are many varieties; some are perennial and some are not, depending on your growing zone. While we usually think of lavender for its scent, it is also delicious in cakes, cookies, and lemonade.

LEMON BALM

Lemon balm’s foliage is quite striking, and it has a pure lemony flavor. It’s great in lemonade drinks. It is a prolific grower and part of the mint family, so it should be grown in pots, or somewhere it can be allowed to grow and spread. Place pots of it on your patio to scent the evening air.

MARJORAM

Marjoram is a milder herb than its cousin oregano. The flavor is so heady you need only a tiny bit to flavor any recipe. No matter what time in the season you harvest it, marjoram does not become bitter. It grows well in a sunny window indoors.

PARSLEY

Parsley, a bright, easy to grow herb for the indoor window, has come a long way from the days of being “just a garnish.” It has a bright, green flavor and is great in soups and pesto.

SAGE

Sage is important for any herb garden! It dries well, is easy to store, and makes a great rub when mixed with other dried herbs. It is a must in poultry dishes. And, sage tea, with a little honey added, is a soothing remedy for sore throats.

THYME

Thyme offers a rich, savory flavor to many soups and stews. It is a must-have for meat dishes, especially those cooked low and slow. It keeps its scent and flavor while dried, and it is very easy to grow. It is a perennial and will appear ready to go each spring. Keep a pot growing on your window sill as well as in your garden. Read more about thyme.


Use rooting gel to propagate from cuttings.

(Posted: October 2011; archived: December 2011)

Rooting gel promotes vigorous root development on cuttings. It is a great tool for those who propagate by cutting. This formulation of rooting hormone is far superior to traditional rooting powders because the gel helps hold the active ingredient IBA against the stem tissue allowing for greater absorption.

The rooting gel seals the cutting and functions as an artificial root system during root development.

To propagate a cutting with rooting gel:

  • Select healthy cuttings 3-6” long from the growing tip. Avoid soft spindly stems from rapid growth.
  • Sever the cutting at a 45 degree angle with a sterile sharp knife or razor blade. Do not use pruners.
  • Dip the cutting in rooting gel and then place it in a roomy hole that you have previously poked into your potting medium. Do not use the gel-coated cutting to poke this hole; doing this could rub much of the gel off the cutting.
  • Never place cuttings in direct sunlight.
  • Maintain root zone temperature at 70-75 degrees.
  • Trim excessive leaf surface to reduce transpiration of water loss while roots are forming. Mist regularly with a light fertilizer for optimum results. If your water is of poor quality, use distilled water.

Fertilizing the mother plant before taking the cutting should provide a higher success rate and better growth of the cutting.

Applying this technique to rosemary:

  • Select healthy plants with lots of new growth on them. Use a sharp knife to take a 2–3 inch cutting from young shoots just below a leaf joint. Use your fingers to strip off the leaves from lower 1 1/2 inch.
  • Fill a 2–3 inch pot with damp potting mix and make a hole in the middle of the mix.
  • Dip the stem into the root-gel (or rooting powder) and then tap it gently to remove any excess.
  • Place the cutting in the hole and then pull soil around the cutting.
  • Some say to water the cutting from below, while others say to have the soil dampened before planting the cutting. (I have successfully rooted rosemary both ways.) I have also watered it from above, gently putting a tiny amount of water just around the edges of the pot at the time I potted the cutting. Almost everyone then recommends placing a plastic bag over the pot.
  • Set cuttings in a warm windowsill, but not in direct sunlight. A constant temperature of 60 to 70 degrees is needed for the cuttings to root.
  • Be sure to mist the cutting daily with plain water or use a light fertilizer in your water. If your water has a strong chlorine smell, use distilled water.
  • In about three weeks, tug on the cutting to see if it has started to root. It usually takes about 8 weeks to firmly root.
  • Plant your new rosemary plant in its permanent location when it is fully rooted and then trim its top to develop branches.

New in this year’s seed catalogs …

(Posted: January 2011; archived: March 2011)

I have received 23 different seed catalogs and am thoroughly enjoying them. They’re featuring some interesting new herbs as well as new varieties of old stand-bys. Here are some of my discoveries:

BURPEE’S SEED CATALOG now offers a new basil called Round Midnight that has highly aromatic large purple leaves.

SELECT SEEDS has announced that two of its parsleys – Italian Flat Leaf and Moss Curled – are now organic. It also offers a new fennel called Smokey Bronze that has dark feathery leaves with a mild anise flavor. The whole plant can be eaten.

NICHOLS GARDEN NURSERY suggests planting a “pesto garden” consisting of Genovese Basil, arugula, cilantro, flat Italian parsley, and Fernleaf Dill. Having all of these in one spot could certainly be handy when it was time to make pesto.

JOHNNY’S SEEDS is offering a new cilantro called Calypso that is advertised as being slow to bolt. In field tests, it was three weeks slower to bolt than other cilantro varieties. Its full, bulky plants also provide a high leaf yield.

Pyrethrum is not a new herb, but it seems to be featured more than before. It is a natural source of pyrethrins that are safe to use on edible plants for insect control. The flowers are white with yellow centers and grow from rigid stems. Leaves are blue-green in color.

TERRITORIAL CATALOG says its new basil- Queen of Sheba – is great in containers. It has green foliage topped with deep purple flower spikes that reach up to 4-5 inches.

A new lavender – Violet Intrigue – is described as the most lavish and powerfully perfumed lavender available. It forms a dense mounding, upright plant and has a showy display of flowers from May through September. It is 24 inches tall and wide, with flower spikes held above the foliage. Great in containers.

Epazote is not new this year, but it is a great substitute for cilantro. Most Mexican dishes can use it instead of cilantro. It is called the “bean herb” and prevents gas. It is an annual and is slow to bolt. It also has a longer growing season than cilantro.

Cuban Mojito Mint is a great addition to cocktails and is, in fact, named for the mojito cocktail. It is very aromatic and the leaves may be used fresh, or dried in various dishes. Remember, it is a mint, so plant it in containers or a spot where you won’t mind if it “roams” around and spreads.

SEEDS OF CHANGE spotlights its Dotted Mint (Monarda punctata) which is actually a strongly-flavored, thyme-scented herb that is one of the highest known plant sources of thymol. It grows 2-5 feet tall and is an erect plant with orchid-like flowers. It can be used to treat upset stomach, colds, diarrhea, neuralgia and kidney disease. It also makes a great tea.


Don’t stop planting your favorite herbs just because it’s fall.        

(Posted: September 2010; archived: November 2010)

Fall is upon us and I’m still in the planting mood or mode. I’m now planting a second crop of some of my favorite herbs. Old Man Winter may catch up with me, but I’ll enjoy fresh basil, cilantro, dill and parsley just a little longer.

Basil is a wonderful herb for a second planting. It loves cool weather and will love the days and cool nights of fall. Basil is fast growing so you will have plenty of time to enjoy it. If it looks like frost is coming, just cover the plants to protect them.

Cilantro enjoys the cooler weather of spring, but we forget about the cool fall weather that cilantro will enjoy. Cilantro will self-seed, so let those new plants grow and extend your cilantro season. Cilantro can tolerate a light frost, so don’t be surprised if you find the herb still growing after a frost.

Dill is another cool weather herb, but a second planting may not have time to flower and make those beautiful seed heads. Fern Leaf Dill is great for a fall planting. It has more foliage and is slower to flower than the giant Dukat variety. Place some dill foliage in a baggie and place in the freezer for a delicious winter treat. Dill is great on salmon and chicken and in dipping sauces.

Parsley grows as well in the fall and in the summer. It can be found in the garden stores, and greenhouses much longer than other herbs. We think of parsley as just a garnish, but it is delicious in soups, and marinades. Parsley is also a great breath freshener. Eat that garnish on your plate!

Don’t forget to plant these herbs in a window sill planter to enjoy all winter. I have some growing now.


Can’t wait to get outside to plant? – Try a window garden.    

(Posted: February 2010; archived: March 2010)

When I’m suffering from the “winter blahs,” what I really want to do is get outside and plant to my heart’s content! But, that’s just not possible when the snow is on the ground, the soil is frozen, and the winter winds are blowing.

What I can do, however, is start planting indoors, using a windowsill as a home for a kitchen-friendly, herb snipping garden. Here’s how you can do the same.

Start by picking about three of your favorite herbs that will grow indoors. I like to use thyme, basil, and oregano.

Although some stores sell them, you don’t have to use a special container. Recycle something you already have for your window garden. And, don’t feel limited by your windowsill. Think outside the windowsill. If you don’t have a lot of windowsill space, make a dish garden. Just be sure that your container has good drainage.

You can make your own soil-less potting mix using one of the recipes below or use a soil-less mix from the garden store. Plant multiple herb seeds in one container and be sure to water thoroughly. Then place them in a sunny window and watch them grow.

Once your herbs have sprouted you’ll need to feed them. — I prefer to use Miracle-Gro as a nutrient. — And, be sure to snip these herbs frequently to keep them small.

When the soil outside is warm enough, you can transplant these herbs into your garden. Or, keep them where they are. I usually try to keep my small indoor windowsill garden going all winter. I also keep getting the urge to plant more!


Make your own soil-less potting mix.        

(Posted: February 2010; archived: March 2010)

Either of these two soil-less potting mixes can be used in making a windowsill herb garden or for other indoor planting.

Basic soil-less potting mix

  • 4-6 parts Sphagnum Moss
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part vermiculite

Soil-less potting mix with compost

  • 2-4 parts Sphagnum Moss
  • 2 parts compost
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part vermiculite

A tip for inexpensive seed-starting containers.        

(Posted: February 2010; archived: March 2010)

If you bring left-overs home from the restaurant in a plastic container with a clear lid, use this to start your seeds. Plant the seeds and moisten the soil, then place the clear lid on the container and set it in a sunny window.

Remember to check and perform needed watering frequently. Seeds that normally take 10-14 days to sprout will sprout about three days earlier.

These plants can be moved to the garden as soon as the outside soil is warm enough. Or, they can be replanted in an indoor herb garden container for snipping all year long.

Seed-starting kits in garden stores and catalogs are costly, but the above is an inexpensive way to start seedlings. Recycling is good!