Subject: Growing Herbs Started in the Winter
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Sepand
Posted on: February 21, 2008

I’m thinking of ordering some seeds and start growing them as soon as possible. I have a couple of questions:

1) First, is it possible to start growing herbs indoors this time of the year (end of January)? I have a South and East viewing apartment, so when it’s sunny (and I think it would be fair to say we here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada we get sun at least 1 out of 3 days, no?) I can get sunlight from dawn until around 3

pm in the winter, and probably less in the summer as the sun comes a bit more North. The temperature around the south and east windows is approximately 80-88F (26-31C), which is quite a lot warmer than the rest of my apartment. The temperature at night, however, falls down and is the same as the rest of the apartment, approx. 70-75F( 21-24C).

2) Second, what would you recommend for me to grow as a first-time beginner with limited space? The maximum I can commit is a window box no bigger than 1 meter in length. Personally, I like mint, basil, tarragon, and thyme (not sure how many I can keep in a window box of that size), but I’ll go ahead with whatever is practical.

The temperature variation between day and night is ideal for growing plants in your windows. The light is most likely quite adequate. If your windows are obstructed by other buildings or trees, you can always hang fluorescent lights over your box and have them grow very happily.

You should have no trouble growing basil and thyme. Only Russian tarragon comes as a seed and I would not recommend it, because the plants vary wildly in their flavour intensity. However French tarragon has a problem too, because it needs a month of freezing in the winter to not just peter out and die. Planting it in a removable pot may be the answer, as a pot can be put in the fridge for two weeks and then moved to the freezer for a further two weeks, then the fridge for another two weeks and then back onto the windowsill.

The choice of mints is very small if you grow from seeds only. Also mints tend to send out aggressive runners underground and would soon take over your whole planter. I suggest a separate pot for them. A one metre box can easily accommodate the plants you want.

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