I have discovered that having a window sill herb garden is a wonderful way to begin my conversations on a cold winter's morning. A "Good morning Mr. Basil!" or a "How is everyone this morning?" makes both you and the plants feel alive.
We old people hate to see our gardens wither and die in the fall. It reminds us of how fast our own mortal growing season has flown by, leaving us to anticipate the coming winter's cold. That's why I grow herbs indoors; an attempt to keep a spark of life in the old vegetable grower.
To grow herbs in the house, you have to have enough sunlight to allow the plants to grow. That usually means placing them in a window facing the south or southeast. My indoor herb garden is small; with only three plants in front of a southern window.
Chives are my favorite indoor herbs. They're so easy to grow in or outdoors that I think it is almost impossible to kill them. You don't even have to have a green thumb. Fresh chives on a baked potato in the dead of winter are a delicacy. They are just as good in the spring or summer, but to have fresh chives when there's snow on the ground is a culinary delight.
Oregano is another herb that once it starts growing, unless you keep it trimmed, grows out of control. In the fall I will dig up a couple of the roots and plant them in my window containers. The plant that remains outside will live through the winter, but I will have some greenery inside.
I've tried to grow Rosemary from seeds inside the house but it has been difficult to get them to germinate. I have also bought small plants at the nursery, but then my problem has been to get them to grow slowly. If they have enough light, they can grow from two to five feet tall in a short period of time.
My little container herb garden wouldn't be complete without Thyme, though it too takes a long time for to germinate and produce foliage. Buy small plants at a nursery or if you already have some growing in your garden, separate some of the plants, prune and then plant them in your pots.
Individual pots for herbs should be 6"-12" or you can plant several plants in one long container. This works well because most herbs don't require a lot of water. They're happier when they are semi-dry.
You have to have enough sunlight to allow the plants to grow. That usually means placing them in a window facing the south or southeast. My indoor herb garden is small, just big enough to lend a little greenery to my den, but the plants still need sunlight.
Because it is difficult to get five to eight hours of direct sunlight through my windows, I installed an inexpensive grow light that I bought at one of the giant indoor lumber yards. It was very easy to hang and evidently the plants are delighted with my choice of a light source.
Not being an expert on the multiple choices of grow lights that can be found in garden departments, I fell back on a time honored method and chose the cheapest one I could find. Because plants require darkness as well as lights, I keep the light on for about 9 hours a day, then turn it off and let the plants have a good night's sleep.
Indoors I use a potting mix with no soil in order to not bring outside bugs into my house. This helps with keeping my herbs healthy. If I do happen to see an aphid or two, a good spraying with a mild soapy liquid will usually kill most insects the plants may have contracted. A couple of days after the spraying, rinse well or the oregano you put in your spaghetti sauce may taste like detergent!