Thyme? Thyme? Who's Got the Thyme?
Those who have a green thumb, but not the land to cultivate with it, it can be a real trick to figure out how to enjoy a gardening hobby. There may be many reasons that can cause a potential gardener to throw down their gardening gloves in frustration. From apartment living to renting a home to injury and inability to till the land properly, many people decide to hang up their trowels for good because they don't see a way out of their situation. Well, have no fear! There are indeed ways to keep fresh things on the table, though maybe not in the way you are imagining. Though it can be hard to stomach not growing fresh tomatoes and squash, fresh herbs can help enhance any dish. Plus, if there are community gardens near you, many offer small plots for a nominal fee. That way, you still have access to your larger crops without needing to worry about finding a large stretch of land for them.
Many who have found themselves in the position of needing to change their gardening habits have found solace in the growing of different herbs and spices. Though it can lead to a longing for a larger garden, herb gardens take up quite a bit less space and require less care, so they are perfect for the on-the-go apartment dweller. Or, and likely more honestly, those who are forgetful. Typically, one or two small pots can contain a few fresh herb plants and they take up as little as five inches on a window sill or other section of the home that has access to sunlight. In a basement apartment, it may even be possible to find out if you can construct a mini garden in a window well. Beginning with a few, smaller plants can help you to get into the habit of caring for them without becoming overwhelmed.
There are many popular types of herbs that can be purchased for under $5 at a variety of stores. Especially during the warmer months of the year, these can be found in the produce section of grocery stores, in organic food stores, in big box superstores, and in home improvement stores. Additionally, many nurseries stock herbs and the supplies needed to keep them happy and healthy. Wherever you get the plants from, remember that they may need to be transplanted in order to keep them thriving.
Some plants can be re-grown from cuttings of vegetables purchased at the grocery store. Green onions, lettuce, and even potatoes can be grown with minimal upfront cost. Next time you buy green onions, save the roots and submerge them in water until they begin growing. Keep the top of the plant out of water, only cover the roots with water, though make sure there is enough for a few days. After it has begun to sprout, transition the plant to a small pot with some soil- enough to cover the roots. As time goes on, you'll have fresh green onions available from the clippings. Best way to save money on green onions? We think so!
Just like with other types of gardens, it's important to know what plants like in the way of climate, watering schedule, and sunlight. In the winter, it may be better to purchase a grow light to help plants get the proper amount of sun. If the room the herbs are being grown in has natural light, they need at least 4 hours. Typically, this means direct sun, so northern facing windows may not do the job, and keeping them in a more isolated part of the house can be problematic as well. Keeping herbs happy indoors is a relatively easy thing to do because they like many of the conveniences we humans do. For example, the temperature many people keep their homes is perfect for plants, as is a slight dip in warmth at night. If they get too cold, they may not survive as well, though, so keep that in mind if they are too close to a window or if the home is not insulated very well and they are particularly close to a cold air vent or leaky window frame.
Just like us, they don't like to soak in water for largely extended periods of time, either- think pruney skin, though in the case of the plants, it's pruney and moldy roots. This leads us to another helpful hint- many people put plants in whatever container they have lying around the house, however for a plant to flourish, it is better to make sure there is a way for the water to drain out or for there to be a place for excess water to go. This could mean putting small stones or aquarium pebbles in the bottom of a mason jar, then plant the herbs in soil on top of the pebbles. Doing so can help to prevent standing water around the roots. Another solution could be purchasing pots from the store with holes in the bottom for leakage to occur- just remember to put a saucer or plate underneath to keep the water from running everywhere.
If you are struggling to decide which plants may be the best for your kitchen, a few ideas include basil, rosemary, varieties of lettuce (grown in a similar way to green onions), garlic, parsley, mint, and thyme. Feel free to experiment with different types of containers, configurations, and indoor plants as you never know when you'll find a great, new idea. Also, If you are interested in learning to compost, herbs will do well with the nutrients provided in such soil. The joy of gardening is in the journey, so be sure to start yours soon.