Indoor Herbs for the Winter

Indoor Herbs, January 2010

Since my (now deceased) cat sat on my aloe plant (because it was the highest seat in a bay window) of my apartment from which to view who might be coming to visit while I was in Arizona for a couple of weeks, I haven’t been much for houseplants though at the time, I had quite the jungle.  Then I moved somewhere a lot less sunny than that apartment.  A few years later, I acquired a husband and along with him a jade plant.  Some time after that, we had some bamboo which was a center piece at someone else’s wedding.  I always figured that we’d give it back to them as an anniversary present some year, but then we gave it back earlier as a housewarming present when they bought a house and when I found that while it seemed everyone else had bamboo from their wedding they did not.

Last summer, I decided that some of the plants in our little front garden, left over from the previous owners of the house were not suiting me and that the herbs I had in the back yard could benefit from the increase in sun that they’d see in the front yard.  So I moved the lavender and the rosemary out front.  Before it got really cold (and subsequently snow-covered) I decided that I didn’t want to lose the rosemary over the winter (it always dies in this climate) and that maybe the lavender would benefit from coming in too.  Then I decided that the thyme and lemon thyme might as well come in and around that same time some basil that we had from our CSA (after I had already made all the basil that we grew into pesto) sprouted roots while it was in a glass of water for about a week.  I planted that too.  All great decisions.  The basil is kind of pale compared to the sort of basil that grows outside in August, but it’s still nice to have it to snip over home-made pizza, mix into the eggs for an omelet or into home-made salad dressing to be used minutes after it is made.  The thyme and rosemary have been great to have with roasted potatoes and I suspect a bunch of the thyme will end up in a chicken pot pie later today.  We haven’t been eating the lavender (though we could), but it is absolutely going crazy and will a very vigorous plant when it goes back outside in April or early May.  I also love to smell the lavender and will rub my hands over the leaves every once and a while just to do so.

All of this will set me up really well in the spring when the plants go back outside as a much more densely planted herb garden.  I plan a border of chamomile for the front, possibly some white chives if I can find them all in place of the two plants I pulled out which looked nice when they were blooming and straggly the rest of the time.    In the spring the two straggly wild rose vines will also go.  I don’t know if they will go somewhere else or just go away.  All of this fits into my philosophy that things planted in the yard will either be edible or will be native plants.  I haven’t yet decided whether the oregano, marjoram and two kinds of parsley growing in the back are too messy to be part of this front garden herb planting  which will be as decorative as it is edible.

Next winter I’d also like to have a bay laurel in the house.  I won’t order one now, because I think it’s too cold and it might not survive the trip, but fresh bay leaves to add to simmering broths and to stick in the flour to keep insect pest out would be better than dried bay leaves.

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