Successful Indoor Herb Gardening Experiment #1: Sweet Basil

The summer is very challenging for Florida gardening. Too much rain, too much humidity, and too much heat makes for very unhappy plants (and even less happy gardeners). About three weeks ago, I decided to try growing sweet Italian basil indoors because I just need to have fresh, organic herbs. I use basil a lot, so I decided to start with that.

I have a great south-facing window that lets lots of light in for at least six hours a day, several great planters with built-in drainage, potting mix, and plenty of viable seeds. There was absolutely no reason not to try.

I filled a small 8″ planter with a mixture of potting soil and a bit of homemade compost. I put about 20 seeds scattered along the top, and covered the seeds with about 1/4″ of soil. I watered lightly with a spray bottle because I didn’t want the seeds to rot and then I covered the pot over with a plastic bag. I’ve always found the humidity is very helpful for seed germination. I put the pot on a windowsill in a warm, sunlit room and every day, I checked to see if it needed water. I watered it once. In about five days, I had babies:

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I kept the bag off because I had plenty of germinated seeds. I then placed the pot in a south-facing, sunny window. In less than a week, they looked like this:

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I had to thin some of the seedlings to avoid crowding (and, quite honestly, I can’t believe they did as well with such a great germination rate), and after about two more weeks, here’s what they looked like (I took this photo this morning):

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I’ll have to thin them out again because there are way too many plants for this size pot. I may just use them in a recipe or salad and even try transplanting a few. I’ll be sure to post about the transplant. It seems like this indoor herb gardening experiment has gone well thus far. I think I’ll give parsley a go, too. I’ve even considered lettuce! Dare I?

If you try this at home, here are some tips to make your herby endeavor successful:

  • Pots with drainage holes are your friends
  • Make sure to use viable seeds that haven’t expired
  • Humidity is helpful for germination
  • Choose a bright, sunny location for your pots
  • Water regularly and keep evenly moist, not soaked, soil
  • Rotate the pot every day to make sure it gets even sunlight exposure
  • Don’t harvest until the plants get at least 6″ tall

I’d love to hear about your indoor gardening projects! Please feel free to share. I learn the most from those around me. 🙂

Happy gardening, everyone!

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