Q: I am too anxious to wait to plant herbs outside on my roof deck and want to start some inside in anticipation. Maybe putting some on my window ledge. I can do that right?
A: Of course you can - I totally understand needing to fulfill an herb fix at this time of year. There are a couple of things that you do want to take in to consideration so that your edibles have the best chance to make it to your dinner table. The first thing to consider is the placement of the herbs in your home. Most herbs want and need direct sunrays hitting them to be happy and healthy. Make sure that the windowsill you are contemplating receives those direct rays. You also need to make sure that you are ready to water on a consistent basis - no getting lazy. Most herbs can be water hogs and if you do not pay attention to them you can lose some of your harvest, let alone the whole plant. Keep in mind that if you repot your herbs (with a light weight potting mix) the more soil you have around the root system the more water retention there will be. It would be a good idea to repot them now especially if they are cramped in the original growers pot.
Flickr photo by Salvadonica, Chianti, Tuscany
Q: I will repot the herbs and I was thinking of planting them in a rectangular container because it would fit the window ledge proportions. Would the herbs mind being planted together or do they have to go in their own pots?
A: A rectangular container would be a nice way to spotlight your herbs. If you do plan on moving them outside where they will get rained on when the weather gets nicer, which by the way they would love, make sure your container has a way to drain so that your herbs do not drown. Even though they like moisture it does not mean that they want wet feet. You also want to be selective on which herbs you are planting together to make sure that they all get along. Some herbs have some bad habits and I normally segment them to their own home.
Flickr photo by jayneandd
Q: I didn't know that plants could have bad habits - cant they all just get along? Which ones would play nicely together and which ones should be on their own?
A: Herbs that I normally like to give their own home to would be mint which is aggressive and can take over, cilantro & dill reseed which can normally demand the naughty corner and watercress is almost like a water plant and will be the sore chap in the bunch. When you are pairing you're herbs together think about how they grow as far as direction and size. Give your taller guys like basil or rosemary the space that they deserve and interplant the taller guys with groundcover herbs like creeping thyme and watch it fall over the front of your container creating a soft buffer.
Q: Any other tips to assure that they can make it in my care?
A: When you want to use your herbs for cooking do not just pull the leafs off -- instead pinch or cut the actual stem back to right above a set of leaves. If you implement this good habit your plant will be bushier and not as leggy. Also, when you see the flower bud set cut it off immediately. This puts more energy back in to the plant to make more of the leaves versus exhausting itself on the flower -- more herbs for you.