How to grow an indoor herb garden

indoor herb garden
indoor herb gardenZara Napier/Garden Picture Library/Getty Images / Today

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By Alesandra Dubin

It’s well into winter and you’re feeling a little blah. Here's a remedy worth trying well before spring: Grow a fragrant, flavorful herb garden indoors. It’s a quick way to liven up your mood—who isn’t cheered by a little greenery and photosynthesis?—and your food, too. 

What to Buy
Pick out a large plant pot (make sure it has holes for drainage), a plastic or ceramic tray, stones or gravel, and potting soil or compost. Purchase herbs that are known to be vigorous, like basil, bay, sage, chives, rosemary and parsley, to give yourself the best chance of success. (Also consider which herbs you love and know you’ll use in cooking.) Feeling generous? Start a second—or third!—pot to share as a perfect gift.

Where to Start
Start by placing the tray beneath your plant on your windowsill so you don’t risk any damage when the pot drains. Next, layer stones or gravel in the bottom of the pot to promote irrigation. Fill the pot with the soil or compost, leaving a few inches to spare at the top. Dig out a small hole and nestle in the herb plant, after loosening its roots up a bit. Add more compost to cover, and repeat the process for the other plants you wish to add. Water well to give your garden the best start.

How to Keep It Thriving
Ideally you’ll place your garden in a window with southern exposure where the herbs can get six to eight hours of sunlight per day. Your space should be sunny, but keep watch to avoid torching your mini garden in spaces like a bay window with direct, all-day exposure in hot climates. (Move your garden around if it seems like too much.) Water your plants well—it’s easy to remember if you place your garden on a kitchen windowsill, or someplace that’s highly visible to you. And make sure the stones are working to help your garden drain well; if not, rearrange them.

How to Use Your Herbs
Enjoying your harvest is half the fun! Instead of randomly tearing off a few leaves, snip from the top first. Be sure not to take more than a fraction of each plant at once, and wait a while for it to grow fuller before harvesting again.

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.