Urbanly Growing Things

One of my biggest excitements in moving to my new apartment is the abundance of natural light and a big deck. Previously I have bemoaned my inability to grow ANYTHING inside, given the scant 4 windows(all North facing) in our courtyard apartment. In a week and a half (ee!) this will be history and I can get to growing.

My first victim will be a gorgeous fig tree spotted at Gethsemane Garden Center the other day. She was sitting pretty, begging me to take her fruits and eat them with cheese and chocolate through the Fall. I said 'sure". For those similarly inclined, the internet recommends the Ficus carica, or 'Chicago Hardy' fig tree, thus named for its ability to withstand our zone 6 winters after having been brought here via the mediterranean. They can be found here.

Herb-wise, my research has turned up 9 hardy herbs that will grow(and flourish)inside despite the Artic clime of a forthcoming Chicago winter:

Bay: A perennial that grows well in containers all year long. Place the pot in an east, or west, facing window, but be sure it does not get crowded—bay needs air circulation to remain healthy.Bay A slow grower. Use the Laurus nobilis strain; it's best for cooking with. Bay tree can become infested with scale if it gets too dry—use dishwashing detergent to wash off the leaves, then rinse them thoroughly.

Chervil: Start chervil seeds in late summer. It grows well in low light but needs 65 to 70 degrees F temperatures to thrive.

Chives: The Grolau variety was bred for growing indoors. It needs a lot of sun, so place it in your brightest window.

Parsley: You can start this herb from seeds or dig up a clump from your garden at the end of the season. Parsley likes full sun, but will grow slowly in an east, or west, facing window.

Tarragon: A dormant period in late fall or early winter is essential for tarragon to grow indoors. Pot up a mature plant from your outdoor garden and leave it outside until the leaves die back. Bring it to your coolest indoor spot for a few days, then place it in a south-facing window for as much sun as possible. Feed well with an organic liquid fertilizer.

Kaffir Lime Tree: Kaffir lime leaves are often used in Thai cooking. Be sure you give this plant special citrus food.

Lemongrass: A good way to cheat, because it requires no soil; you can just use a stalk you get at the market. Make sure it has a good amount of stem and the bottom is intact; trim the top and put it in a container with a couple of inches of water. Connie Campbell, a New Hampshire–based master gardener, says, “It will send out roots and new sprouts and many, many new stalks from the bottom, and you can just cut those off and use them.”

Mint: Very invasive, so it needs its own pot. Peppermint is great for teas, and you’ll only need a little of it. You usually need a lot of spearmint for recipes, so it may not be worth growing in a container.

Vietnamese Coriander: Almost identical in taste to cilantro.

And 5 More, For Advanced Indoor Cultivators:

Oregano: Your best bet is to start with a tip cutting from an outdoor plant. Place the pot in a south-facing window.

Sage: Take a tip cutting from an outdoor plant to start an indoor sage. It tolerates dry, indoor air well, but it needs the strong sun it will get in a south-facing window.

Rosemary: Start with a cutting of rosemary, and keep it in moist soil-less mix until it roots. It grows best in a south-facing window.

Thyme: You can start thyme indoors either by rooting a soft tip cutting or by digging up and potting an outdoor plant. Thyme likes full sun but will grow in an east, or west, facing window.

Basil: It’s a favorite to cook with, but it’s a tough one to grow. Your best shot is to grow it during the warm, bright summer months. Try the Spicy Globe or African Blue variety, the latter of which is more like Thai basil and does well indoors.

(via chow and organic gardening.)

I have a track record as a serial plant-killer, so I plan to start small with parsley, mint, vietnamese coriander, and maybe some rosemary if I'm feeling extra-bold.

But what to plant them in?

I like the idea of using large tea and sundry old tins(drilling a hole in the bottom of course), via Allison's Australian cottage via A TH.

I love the idea of these little pots from Three Potato Four

but the price outstrips their functionality (they're so tiny, I would have to re-pot them in 2 months!). Nor would I drill holes in my Le Creuset mini-cocottes--sacrilege!
I think I'll settle on taking the drill to an old, chipped, thrift store enameled fondue pot I already have.
( via cocotte-planter madness right here.)

What do you use for planters? And what do you grow?

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