Windowsill Herbs in the Winter Months
With winter lingering, the days are short and wet and gardening is definitely out of the question for the next few months, right?
Wrong! Your outdoor garden might be out-of-bounds until summer, but you can always bring it inside for the winter by simply planting a windowsill herb garden. A windowsill herb garden can also add a nice decorative touch to your kitchen – consider ceramic pots that tie in nicely with your existing colour scheme to complement and enhance the room.
Many herb plants grow quite easily in pots requiring only minimal care, although to grow enough to use and enjoy in your everyday cooking you’ll need decent sized plants and pots. A sunny windowsill is a must to ensure your herbs thrive through the cold months; roughly five hours of sunshine a day ought to ensure your newly planted herb garden avoids any casualties.
TOP TIP: Avoid drafts at all costs! Plants kept on a drafty windowsill are likely doomed. Proper drainage is also essential when considering pots/containers.
It is entirely up to you whether you decide to start by buying small herb plants or seeds, but it is worth taking into consideration that if you do opt for seeds (usually a less expensive option) they will require more attention and it will be a few months before you can use them.
So what herbs should you grow in your new windowsill garden? A few personal windowsill winners in my opinion are as follows:
Sweet basil leaves are a delicious addition to any tomato dish, soup or stew or perfect used as a simple garnish.
This beloved herb has literally hundreds of uses. From a humble salad seasoning, to the main ingredient in dips, quiches and pastas.
Easy to grow and commonly used as a garnish, adding parsley to a dish will serve to bring out the flavours of other spices. Parsley when chewed also freshens the breath (not to be confused with Wrigleys)!
Thyme’s warm spicy flavour adds that special something to any soup, stew or casserole. Thyme is also fab used in stuffing and sauces.
Often used in pasta dishes with tomato-based sauces or sprinkled on a roasting leg of lamb, fresh rosemary will enhance the flavour of any dish.
Refreshingly easy to grow, mint is a fabulous addition to drinks (Mojitos!) and makes a good dessert garnish.
The ultimate pizza herb, commonly used in Italian dishes, oregano compliments just about any tomato-based dish plus a wide variety of meats and vegetables.
These are a few of my personal favourites, however if these don’t appeal to you, you can always visit your local nursery or supermarket for more herb plants and tips on growing them.
When thinking about maintaining your windowsill garden there are a few things to think about. Snip and trim your herb plants often to encourage new growth, and remember that herb plants do not like to be overwatered. In winter, however, you may wish to consider misting your herb plants to compensate for the additional heating from radiators.
Most importantly, enjoy your new windowsill herb garden! Try using them in salads and other unexpected places in addition to the recipes you already use them in. If you’re finding your herbs are growing faster than you can cook them up, try freezing them for later use. Home-grown herbs can also be equally delicious when dried and stored for later use.
When spring arrives, you can move your portable windowsill garden outside or continue to cultivate it in indoors, the choice is yours. Indoors or out, make sure your plants are healthy and thriving so your herb garden is ready to go when the winter season swings around again.
Kate Gould is an award-winning garden designer with more than a decade’s worth of hands-on experience transforming gardens of all sizes. A regular exhibitor at the Chelsea Flower Show, Kate writes a regular blog for the Guardian blog filled with tips for transforming your garden.