Herban Adventure: Week 3

It’s now been three weeks since taking on a seemingly insurmountable challenge: to grow an herb garden inside my drafty, 19th floor, balcony-less apartment.

I’ve had multiple failures growing herbs in the past. Every summer since I’ve lived in this space (three and counting), I’ve gotten caught up in the frenzied excitement of my local farmer’s market and purchased a variety of potted herbs, each time with the grand intention of always having a supply of fresh herbs at the ready.

The first year I kept my basil plant alive for just two weeks. The following summer I attempted basil again, but this time failure came sooner with the plant turning brown after just one week. Last summer I became even more determined to get this right and bought three types of plants: basil, thyme and rosemary. All dead within a month.

(It’s important to note that I’ve kept three other plants alive for more than four years.)

I swore I wouldn’t try this again; that it was time to give up the dream of fresh herbs in high-rise living, or least put it on hold until I could move to a place with even the smallest bit of an outdoor living space.

Then, on that fateful day three weeks ago in Home Depot (I was there for closet organizers), I found myself stuck in the gardening department. Even though it was just 40 degrees outside, I was feeling my first flush of spring fever. Before I knew it, I was purchasing a strange-looking clay pot that came with six types of herbs (it has a large open top with four small openings around the sides), a plastic tray with 12 peat pellets (called a windowsill greenhouse), and two seed packets (thyme and rosemary).

I thought, maybe the trick was to plant my own seeds, making these indoor plants from the get-go. All I knew was that I was determined to have fresh herbs by summer.

So, one week later the cilantro had sprouted like wildfire. The thyme had been the first to appear in both planters, followed by the basil, chives and marjoram. The parsley was just beginning to peek though, but the rosemary hadn’t appeared at all.

The plants are set up in a pathetic display – both planters on a red plastic tray on an old folding chair. Originally positioned in front of the large windows (my apartment faces west so I get a strong afternoon sun) for maximum sun exposure, I quickly realized that spot was too cold and drafty and moved the chair to the center of the room. The temperature there is probably more moderate and still receives the full effects of the sun.

I care for the herbs by lightly misting them with water in the evenings and turning the planters every other day.

Now, as the plants enter their third week, it seems they’ve taken a step backwards. What had begun as vibrant little sprouts are now appearing slightly wilted and less “alive.” And I’m really concerned for the rosemary which still hasn’t sprouted. Did I even plant seeds there? What’s up with that?

Stay posted to hear more about this (mis)adventure. I’d love to hear your tips…

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