I’m an herb killer

by Karen on August 25, 2008

A few people commented on my last post that we could save money on fresh herbs by growing our own. This is something that I’ve desperately wanted to do forever.

Last year, we tried to grow an herb garden from seeds. It didn’t really work, like, at all.

Then a friend gave us some beautiful pre-potted herbs that were already thriving. I put them on our porch in the best sunlight I could find and lovingly cared for them. What resulted is the saddest, most pathetic herb garden ever.

That used to be a beautiful herb garden with basil, parsley, rosemary, mint, and sage until I committed herbicide. The worst part? I so badly wanted them to grow that I continued to water those plant skeletons for weeks after they died. It was beyond morbid.

They’ve been gone for two months now, but I can’t bear to dump them because I’m convinced they’ll somehow magically come back to life. I know, I’m sick. I just can’t face the awful thing I’ve done.

I want to try to replant some seeds, but I’m afraid we just don’t have good growing conditions here. Our apartment is surrounded by enormous pine trees and very little sunlight gets through. We’re also facing north with no south-facing windows. We get no direct sunlight inside and almost none on our balcony. Even the pot of impatiens I hung from our balcony (a flower my mother swore would thrive in the shade) died.

I’m telling myself that it’s the bad growing conditions because I just can’t face the fact that I’m a plant killer.

We’re probably going to be living in this apartment for another two years. I either have to figure out a way to grow some herbs in the shade, or I have to live with paying $3 a week for fresh basil. Bummer.

I promise you, though. If I can’t make it work here, good garden space will be a top priority for me in our next home, even if it’s just a window box.

In the meantime, can anybody help me?! Any tips/suggestions for growing herbs in the shade? Should I just give up?

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{ 4 comments }

1 Kacie August 25, 2008 at 8:20 pm

Maybe you can make a new friend over there who is great with herbs, and you can come up with some sort of barter :)

I’m so sorry those herbs didn’t work out. That’s insanely frustrating.

2 vigilant20 August 25, 2008 at 9:26 pm

I’ve been in a similar situation. I’m moving out in October…just in time for it to be too late to grow anything…especially in Wisconsin! It’s depressing.

But I do have a couple aerogardens I got in my pre-frugal days that produce outrageously. That’s obviously not a good option when it comes to being cheap…but setting them up indoors under a light would be the next best, I would think.

3 vigilant20 August 25, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Thanks for stopping by! I haven’t posted any photos in a while, but here are the ones I have up: http://flickr.com/search/?q=aerogarden&w=10535412%40N00 It has pictures of the plants at different stages and shows of some of the first harvests.

The system works extremely well. I can’t say enough good things about mine. They grow super fast, produce tons, and if you have any problems their customer service has been awesome. I had one pump start making noises while I was growing herbs. They not only mailed me a free replacement pump immediately, they also sent me new herbs in case I turned off the noisy pump and my plants didn’t survive.

But there are continued costs. The seed kits need to be replaced every 5 months or so. Conveniently, many kitchen stores carry them and the seeds now. But since you are planting different “crops” there are times you don’t have anything to harvest, and times at their peak when I just can’t use it all right away and end up drying some. They also suggest you replace the lights with each new planting, but I got 4 out of it before they were noticeably dimmer…and probably could have pushed it longer.

4 copyeditorsdesk September 1, 2008 at 10:21 pm

Those li’l pots look mighty dry! Are you watering enough? If it’s very hot — over 90 degrees? — potted plants need to be watered every day. Also, those pots are OK for starting seeds, but they’re too small for herbs to really grow and thrive.

You can tell if the plants aren’t getting enough light because they get long and spindly. If their stems get kind of elongated, then they need more light. You can give them more light by planting them under a fluorescent light. One inexpensive tactic is to get a small fluourescent light designed to be installed under a kitchen cabinet — some of them plug into an outlet — and put it on the bottom side of a bookshelf or a cabinet; then place the plants under that. Plants LOVE fluorescent lights, weirdly enough.

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