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green scene growing an herb garden indoors 
by Flannery Higgins
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continued from page 2

Basil is easily my favorite herb. It has a pungent flavor most people will recognize from Italian cuisine. Popular pesto sauces are made with basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. What’s especially fun about basil is that there are so many varieties to experiment with. I’ve grown ‘Genovese’ and ‘Italian Large Leaf’ but am anxious to try ‘Lime Basil’ and ‘Sweet Thai,’ both of which are commonly used for cooking in Thailand. For an interesting shot of color in your home there are also beautiful purple-tinted types of basil. Whichever varieties you end up growing, it’s important to pinch off the terminal end as the basil grows. This helps the plant to stay bushy and full.

Chives are another favorite, for their mild onion taste. The plants grow in spiky grass-like clusters. I prefer to grow ‘Fine Leaf’ chives because they are thinner and more delicate than the thicker leaf varieties. Be sure to start using your chives as soon as they are a few inches long. Snipping chives encourages them to continue growing.

I grow ‘Italian Dark Green’ parsley, which has full flat-leaves. Unfortunately, parsley turns out to be not-so-easy to grow. It took me awhile to get the hang of growing parsley from seed. If you don’t want the hassle, you may want to start with a parsley plant. The plants are hardy, and need less light than the other herbs I’ve mentioned. Plus, parsley is a good source of vitamin C and is a natural breath freshener.

The final herb in my current collection is catnip. I have two cats who love to chew and play with it while it is growing. As an added treat, I dry catnip and then make homemade cat toys – little pillows stuffed with cotton balls and the crushed leaves. The cats go wacky over them. . If you're inspired to try growing a windowsill herb garden, supplies are readily available at local stores, or you can try the Internet. I recommend Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

This year I’m thinking about expanding my herb collection. Marjoram, savory, and cilantro are all tempting me, with cilantro sounding especially exciting because it's used in all kinds of Mexican cuisine. I am also hoping to try growing tomatoes in containers, as I’ve had visions of salsa dancing in my head. So maybe I should provide this small warning to all you potential greenthumbs out there: this gardening thing – It’s somewhat addictive. I may even have to start considering purchasing a house with garden space.


Flannery Higgins lives in Waterville, ME with her cats Jake and Elwood.

more articles by Flannery Higgins:
celebrate the chinese new year

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