One of the things I miss most about gardening during the long winter months is the scent of the garden. Green, vibrant, alive. The pungent odor of tomato leaves, the almost antiseptic scent of marigolds, the delicate perfume of the wild roses that grow near the lilacs in our yard.
And the herbs.
At our old house, for a while at least, I had a respectable little herb garden. I grew chives, two varieties of sage, parsley, dill, chamomile, basil, and rosemary. Thyme crawled along the edges of the raised beds and spilled over the sides. Lemon balm and mint blossoms drew bees while providing us with plenty of leaves for tea.
I will have an even bigger herb garden here, but at the moment, the ground is covered in a couple feet of snow pack. This is the time for dreaming and planning.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t grow a few herbs inside while I wait.
Easy Herbs to Grow on a Windowsill
The main issue you’ll run into in trying to grow herbs indoors is that most of them need A LOT of light to grow well. It’s difficult to find a sunny window in some houses even in the best of times, but winter sunlight is even weaker. You’ll also, of course, need things that don’t grow too tall (unless you have unlimited window space). Luckily, a few herbs will grow well (if a bit slowly) on a windowsill.
Thyme: There are many varieties of thyme, and all of them grow well indoors. Start with a plant; they take a while to grow from seeds and you want to be able to harvest as often as possible. Let the soil dry out a bit between waterings. The scent of thyme is absolutely glorious, and it’s worth having around just to run your fingertips through occasionally, releasing that fragrance into the air.
Parsley: You can grow this from seed and it will grow well on your windowsill, but you’ll have to be patient. I find that flat leaf parsley does better indoors, but curly parsley will work, too.
Chervil: This herb has a delicate, almost basil-like flavor. It grows well on a cool windowsill with little fuss. Start this one from seed; it grows fairly quickly and the leaves are delicious added to salads, tuna or chicken salad, or any variety of sauces.
Mint and Lemon Balm: These herbs have a reputation for spreading throughout the garden, growing in sun and shade and needing to be fought back to keep them from taking over. Needless to say, this exuberance is well-suited to surviving in the less-than-ideal conditions of your kitchen windowsill. Look for different varieties of mint, such as apple, pineapple, spearmint, peppermint, or even chocolate mint. Mint is best if you start with plants, because some varieties, such as chocolate mint, just don’t grow true from seed and they can take a while to get going. Lemon balm, on the other hand, can be easily started from seed.
Please note that these herbs still prefer warmth, and if your windowsill is especially cold or drafty, they won’t likely do well. If your window is well-insulated, though, they’ll likely thrive there. If your window is a little cold, you can still try it; just move the plants away from the glass a bit so their leaves don’t get too cold, and bring them away from the window if the temperatures are especially frigid.
Of course, if you have an area set aside with grow lights, you can grow pretty much any herb you like indoors. Roger bought a little AeroGarden for me this past year for Christmas, and I’m currently growing basil and parsley in it, so that’s another great option as well.
Either way, a bit of greenery, a gentle hint of basil fragrance in the air, and the chance to spend some time tending to plants makes this snowbound gardener happy. Happy gardening!