From the Blog

Growing My Indoor Herb Garden

One of my items on my Goddamned Happy List for Summer 2011 was to grow some herbs. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I would like to grow tomatoes and corn and pumpkins, but I figure I best not start with delusions of grandeur, especially when I don’t have a garden, or a yard or even soil. So I thought I’d start small and grow some herbs.

Buying fresh herbs in the grocery store annoys the crap out of me. I usually want cilantro, parsley or basil. We use the hell out of basil making pesto, but the bunches of cilantro or parsley are way too big. It would be better if grocery stores had piles of those herbs in bins and you can just pick how much you need. With those big bunches, I can try to hurry up and make dishes with a ton of parsley or cilantro. But we’re only cooking for two people, not a troupe of circus clowns. By the end of the week, the herbs have turned to mush and I never want to look at parsley or cilantro ever again.

I am hoping that growing my own herbs will save me a bit of this annoyance. As I mulled it over, I knew I had a number of restrictive parameters. We don’t get a lot of blazing sun in Astoria. And if I were to grow something indoors, I don’t really have a sunny window. And if I try growing anything in the house, the cat is going to want to eat it. Because he is an asshole.

So. Lack of soil, lack of sun, and a bastard cat. How to solve these issues? Besides growing plants in one of our seventeen closets? I know I can go to a garden center and get seedlings or fully grown herb plants. But in my fevered brain, that sort of feels like cheating. I wanted to start my herbs from seeds and reign over them like a mythical parsley goddess.

The first thing I did was get an an herb seed kit with magic presto soil pellets. This is not cheating at all.

I followed the instructions and soaked the seeds overnight. Each type of seed had different soak times, but come on. Twelve hours, 24 hours, it’s all the same.

I used an ice tray to soak all the little seeds because I’m smart. I started with parsley, cilantro, basil, chives, garlic chives and dill. I don’t really know what I’ll do with chives, we don’t really eat baked potatoes, but I like the idea. I’m sure I will cut them up and put them on stuff.

There were six other herbs I could have started also, but I don’t know what I’d do with mustard or savory. I’ll start some sage and thyme later this season, closer to when the fall and winter vegetables are ramping up.

After soaking overnight, the basil seeds developed a gel around them like fish eggs. It was totally weird.

I followed the dummy-proof instructions and poured water into the tray of pellets. They soaked up the water and started to look like soil. I pulled away the netting (as instructed) and started planting each of the seeds according to their preference.

Look at these crazy ass basil seeds/fish eggs.

As I planted the seeds, I came to a realization that had previously escaped me: Growing stuff involves dirt. I forgot about that. I can’t really remember the last time I had dirt under my fingernails. I rather don’t like it. I think that makes me some kind of wimpy urban shallow person.

Once all the seeds where planted, the tray went into a north facing window. It was bright, but did not get direct sunlight, just as the instructions recommended.

But then I had to wait. Gah. I hate waiting! Who’s idea was this? I want pesto!

But after a few days, I began to see little shoots amidst the dirt. And in a short amount of time, they began looking like tiny little plants.

Look at how cute they are!

At this point, they started growing amazingly fast. Within just a few hours, most of the tray was popping up. The dill and the basil went to town, stretching to the northern window. The parsley, chives and cilantro took a little longer. Some still haven’t sprouted, and it’s been over a week. But most of the seeds are supposed to take up to two weeks to sprout.

I had to turn the tray a number of times a day as the seedlings grew in the direction of the window. It was time to launch my super awesome indoor growing solution. Something to solve the lack of strong sun problem, and my bastard cat problem.

A fish tank. And a grow light. I got a 30 gallon fish tank with high sides, so that even if my herbs grow to mighty, luxurious heights, my damn cat won’t eat them. I got a small grow light from a new indoor growing store in town. I’ll be able to re-pot the seedlings into individual pots and let them keep growing in the fish tank.

Look at them happy buggers!

I was worried at first that the light might not be strong enough or close enough, but they all seem to be growing right towards the light, and I’m getting new shoots every day.

You know what this makes me? It makes me goddamned happy.

Only 90 days or so until pesto. Sigh.





  1. Damnit. Now I want a basil seed drink.

  2. We got garlic chives at the Farmer’s Market, been putting it on almost everything: fish, stir fry, chicken. Think of them as tiny green onions, also nice to add some color. AND!!! We got some mint, and I finally, just yesterday made a fresh batch of tea so I can have some mint iced tea. Well the mint was close to the back of the fridge, I took it out, and it was frozen! grrrrrr

  3. congrats!!! you have inspired me to grow my heirloom catnip seeds. i’ll start them this weekend. my front lawn is sprouting. it is so rewarding when the litle seeds begin to grow little green things, but i agree 100% with you on the patience thing. not my strongest trait. at all. lol.

  4. Aunty Laurie says

    I’m very impressed all mighty herbal Goddess!!! And chives are the best if you like onion flavor, cut them up and sprinkle them on Everything!! (well maybe not pancakes) And, Umm Heather your “acquiring things” again! Let the cycle of life renew!!!

  5. I propose using your many closets to grow mushrooms and raise fresh seafood in your fish tank.

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