Scott Anderson of Elements gives his tips for keeping your basil alive and flourishing
After the abundance of the holiday season, the winter months can leave your home feeling dreary and austere, especially if you live in a cold climate. One of the best ways to beat the winter blues and breathe new life into your home is to bring outdoor gardening indoors. It is not necessary to wait for the snow to melt to have a lush herb garden or stunning spring blooms.
Herbs are a fantastic way to experience a thriving garden without stepping outside. They take up limited space and appeal to the senses. Basil, oregano, mint, thyme, and rosemary are fragrant, beautiful, hearty, and delicious as well.
Select plants that have not already been outdoors to minimize any shock to the greenery. Be sure to select containers with good drainage and use good quality organic potting soil. A bright sunny window or ledge would be an ideal place for them.
If you have limited space or a more modern aesthetic, vertical gardening could be the answer for you. There are many options that can be purchased that are ready to plant, or many DIY tutorials for those looking to create their own vertical container.
Bulbs are another great option for indoor gardening. Bulbs take a little preplanning, but you will be rewarded with beautiful spring blooms much earlier than they will make their first appearance outdoors. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, scillas, and grape hyacinths can be forced into flower in late winter and early spring. Tulips on the windowsill can rejuvenate a winter-worn gardener.
The bulbs will require a period of cold temperatures before they are “forced.” Most bulbs need eight to 13 weeks of temperatures between 35 and 45 degrees F. They can be refrigerated in a brown paper bag away from fruits and vegetables or pre-chilled bulbs can be purchased either online or at your local nursery.
I prefer the clean look of bulbs potted in a shallow tray with some decorative rocks to provide them some stability. Just place the bulbs root side down and provide them with water. You do not want to submerge the bulb in water, you just want the roots to be able to drink.
Forcing glasses are also a very easy and pleasing way to display your flowering bulbs. Again, place the bulb root side down in a forcing glass filled with water. The bulbs take only two to three weeks to begin blooming once you have planted them. The bulbs can be forced only once and should be discarded after.
With minimal investment in either time or money, you can reap the benefits of your live botanicals, and the warmer months will arrive before you know it.