Late to the planting game in September but still determined to grow something this year, a friend and I set out to buy seeds. We ended up getting parsley, cilantro, and marjoram seeds as well as a basil plant. Flash forward almost three months, and our cilantro grew thin and stringy, eventually dying. Our basil leaves are droopy and not growing, and our marjoram has one single centimeter sized sprout. The parsley is doing ok, but it’s about a quarter of the size it should be.
I’ll start out by saying I’m not the world’s best gardener (in case that’s not apparent). I love plants, but I’m notorious for just letting them do their own thing. Which, of course seldom works, aside from my chrysanthemums last year. But, I do have a funny feeling my neighbor was watering them. With that said, this time around I did the research. How much water? How much light? The problem came that it just wasn’t the right environment. October and November’s grey skies in Toronto, in an apartment building’s window, just wasn’t what these type of herbs needed.
I guess the real problem was I didn’t do my research before. I was just eager to grow something. So I’ve put together this handy list of fail-proof herbs and vegetables to grow indoors this winter.
1. Alfalfa sprouts
Perhaps the easiest of plants to grow, since you don’t need them to get past the sprout stage. Jam packed with nutrition, these little guys are a confidence builder even for the most challenged grower. They are so easy to grow, in fact, you can grow them in a mason jar—without soil. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Add seeds to jar.
Step 2: Pour in double their volume in water, add pinch of salt.
Step 3: Cover the jar’s lid with a cheesecloth and let sit on the counter overnight.
Step 4: In the morning, drain the water and pour in fresh water, swish around in the jar and then pour that water out, leaving just the seeds.
Step 5: Lay jar on its side so the seeds can spread out and sprout.
Step 6: Repeat steps 4-5 morning and night for about 4 days or until sprouts reach 3-5cm in height.
2. Green Onions
This one is cool because you can do it from the scraps of your last green onion, and the process will keep repeating all from one set of onion scraps. Like the alfalfa sprouts, you only need water and a glass to grow them in.
Step 1: Buy green onions and cut about 1 inch off of the bottom of each one – store or use the rest.
Step 2: Get a glass and fill it with water
Step 3: Stick green onion stems root down in the glass.
Step 4: Place glass on windowsill
Step 5: Cut green growth off to use when onion is about 4-5 inches
Sunshine is precious in the winter, but there’s still a chance you’ll get some. You’ll be able to grow arugula if your house gets at least 4 hours of sunshine per day in the winter. You can always put it under a fluorescent light, too.
Step 1: Fill a window-sill box planter with at least 4 inches of soil
Step 2: Water your soil so it is moist but not soggy
Step 3: Scatter arugula seeds 1/2 inch apart onto of the soil, then cover with 1/4 inch of extra soil.
Step 4: Water soil lightly.
Step 5: Arugula sprouts quickly, so once they come you can thin your plants out if they are overcrowded. Each plant should be 4-6 inches apart.
Step 6: Water regularly, but gently as to note damage plants.
Step 7: Harvest when plants are 6 inches tall.
They say if you grow one thing, grow chives. They don’t require much light, do well in cooler temperatures and aren’t too finicky. Chives make a great accent to any dish, providing an oniony garlicky flavour. Experts suggest starting from already established plants for a quicker harvest.
Step 1: Plant your sprout in a 6-8 inch pot in all purpose potting mix.
Step 2: Water well.
Step 3: Place somewhere that gets some sunlight. Chives will still grow slowly without much sun though, but faster with more exposure.
Step 4: Watch your chives take off! Harvest in about 4 weeks.
Ginger is a cool root, which you may grow just for its bamboo-looking plant. But if you happen to have a ginger nub and want to try regrowing it, it’s really easy to do so. Make sure to choose organic, or else it will not grow.
Step 1: Take ginger nub that has some nodules at the tip
Step 2: Punch drainage holes in a small clear takeout container.
Step 3: Sprinkle 1-2 inches soil on the bottom, add ginger nub, sprinkle 1/2 inch soil on top.
Step 4: Water well. Replace the lid, but don’t seal it.
Step 5: Water only when the soil dries.
Step 6: You will see a sprout in 6-8 weeks.
Step 7: Repot in larger container.
You can find more information on this at Good Housekeeping.
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Dawson, Vigerova, Previte, Mikat, J., Mitulla; Unsplash.