Adventures in Apartment Herb Gardening

I’ve never had a green thumb.  As a matter of fact, that may be an exaggeration.  I’m a bit of a plant murderer.

Not on purpose! Goodness knows I’ve tried my hand at growing plants.  I seem to do well keeping other people’s plants alive, but mine always kick the bucket after a few weeks.

Take, for instance, the rosemary plant I killed.  Yes, that’s possible….though it takes some talent. (And leaving it outside when it snows)

But I’ve finally had a bit of a breakthrough! I’m now a proud grower of an herb garden on my balcony.  I’ll share a story, and then some tips and questions I’ve come across for anyone that are considering starting their own herb garden.

Fun story:  My maternal grandma has the greenest thumb of anyone I’ve ever met.  This woman is like the plant whisperer.  I have very fond memories of gardening with her when I was a kid.  I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up (times that I cherish more than they’ll ever realize), and I always loved spending time in their garden.
My grandma would even let me “make dirt”, which really consisted of me putting way too many gold fertilizer flecks into potting soil to make it sparkle.  The dirt was probably ruined by all of the stuff I added, but she always acted so thankful and told me I did a great job.  I loved that.
But the most amazing thing my grandma and grandpa did was bring an African violet back to life after I was sure it was dead as a doornail.  They named it “Little Lauren” and not only made it green again, but made about 20 new violets from it.  Amazing.

So when I set out to grow an herb garden, the memory of the dead rosemary plant and nearly-dead violet haunted me. I mean, seriously, who kills rosemary?! It’s super hearty!

For my herb garden, I chose rosemary (I’m determined), mint, parsley, and basil.  The basil I grew from seed, because my grandma taught be to get excited when the seeds sprouted…and I’m still a little kid.

“Before” Picture: Baby herbs! Back when I had seedling basil. 🙂

They’re still alive! And growing. Win!

Guess what?!  My thumb is no longer black!!  Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.  If you’re a gardener, you’ll laugh at these “tips”.  For those of you like me, you’ll appreciate them 🙂

  • Pay attention to tags that come with the plants!! They’ll tell you temperature preference, amount of light needed, and watering preferences.  (Basic, basic advice.  But I never paid attention to tags before, thinking “it’ll be fine”.  Yeah, no it won’t…you’ll kill your plants)
  • Mint is a bully.  It takes over the entire planter if you let it.  Cut off its “runners” to keep it from smothering other plants.  Or you can plant the mint in a small container, then plant that container in your big planter.  This will keep the mint confined. When pruning/harvesting, follow these rules.
  • Parsley is hard to grow! Well, it is if you live in Texas and it’s scorching hot.  Keep the soil damp so the parsley stays happy and green.  This is not a plant that you can let dry out between watering.
  • Basil has a personality.  It will tell you if it’s too cold, too dry, or just depressed from not being watered enough.  Basil will also bounce back from under watering. Yay!  If you see it wilting, it’s probably dry.  A little water and the plant will perk up again in a couple of hours.  (Within reason.  One can’t raise the dead, after all)
  • You can’t leave plants outside in the super cold….even rosemary.  Cover the plants with a blanket or bring them inside if possible during cold spells.
  • Most important:  water!!!!!  In the heat of the TX summer, I give them a good soaking once per day.  The rosemary only gets watered every other day. So far, so good.

One more picture of the basil….I’m so proud!

Do you have gardening advice you’d like to share?  Please comment and share!!  I need all the help I can get.

Best part about this “garden”:  fresh herbs for recipes!!


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