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Start a Garden in Your Kitchen

A beginner’s guide to growing herbs in the great indoors

You know that fantasy you have of plucking oregano from your own herb garden and adding it to the homemade sauce that’s simmering on your stove? That can be a reality. Here’s how to make it happen.

Pick Your Plants

Some herbs are easier to grow indoors than others. If you’ve managed to kill a plant or two in your day, start with confidence-boosters like chives, mint, parsley or oregano. These herbs better tolerate indoor conditions than sun-worshippers like basil, thyme or rosemary.

Let the Light In

Herbs literally can’t get enough of the sun. Many grow best under six or more hours of daily sunlight. Place yours on your brightest windowsill, ideally one that faces south, and give the center spots to the neediest plants. Pro tip: Depending on your herbs of choice, you may need a fluorescent lamp to supplement the short days and weak rays of winter.

Plant the Seed(lings)

Skip the seed stage. Purchase seedlings, along with potting soil and 3- or 4-inch pots (make sure they allow for drainage). And don’t forget saucers or pans to catch the leaks. Plant each herb in its own pot.

Keep Them Comfortable

When it comes to watering, there is such a thing as too much (and too little). Strike the right balance by watering only when the soil is dry to the touch, and stopping when the pot begins to leak.

Live Out Your Dream

When your plant stands at least 6 inches tall, it’s safe to start harvesting. Regular pruning encourages growth. But don’t go overboard: Your plant may get stressed if you cut more than a third of it at one time. Once you’ve snipped your stem and stripped its leaves, start cooking! Add oregano to sauces and parsley to pasta dishes; garnish soup with chives; or toast your gardening success with a minty mojito.