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Windowsill herb growing

With the right care, some herbs can thrive indoors all winter.

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It's a chilly fall afternoon. The garden has been put to bed in anticipation of the winter to come. Still, I am not quite ready to say goodbye to summer.

I think about preparing a tasty tart with the last of our home-grown tomatoes, but the recipe calls for lots of fresh basil. No problem. Thanks to the bush basil growing in my windowsill herb garden, the pleasures of warmer days are still within reach.

As a rule, those who live outside warm winter climates bid farewell to their herb gardens when the calendar turns to October. Tender perennials like bay and rosemary can’t survive cold winters, and tropical-born basil will turn black at the first hard freeze.

Fortunately, the coming of autumn doesn’t have to mean giving up our favorite herbs. With adequate light, the right temperatures, and judicious watering and fertilizing, you can have savory sage stuffing at Thanksgiving, fresh rosemary with your holiday lamb – even tasty thyme for a St. Paddy’s Day stew.

All it takes is planning, preparation, and the right selection of herbs.

“Some herbs do well indoors and others don’t,” advises Gene Gage of Papa Geno’s Herb Farm in Martell, Neb. “A few good choices include rosemary, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, chives, oregano, dwarf sage, and mint.

"Surprisingly," he adds, "basil doesn’t always thrive because like me, it loves sun and heat, which can be hard to provide in the dead of winter.”


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