Growing Herbs in City apartment

Jun 3, 2018
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Hi all,

This is going to be my first experiment with growing some edibles - so apologies in advance for my silly questions - and thought herbs would be a good start.

First some background, I live in NYC, in an apartment with plenty of windows, although all of them face north unfortunately. :( I have not calculated the hours of sunlight that those windows get, but if it is of any help, we have an Aloe Vera that we try to keep at the sunniest spot for 2 years now, and it is doing quite well I'd say!

Also, we are moving out of this place next year, so I'd like to keep the acquisition of equipment to the minimum, and go for cheap DIY alternatives when possible (i.e. pots, planters, etc.)

Doing some reading, it seems that it is possible to grow certain type of herbs with these conditions, from what I've seen it is recommended to try with "soft, leafy herbs such as chives, parsley, mint, cilantro, tarragon, oregano, and lemon balm can do quite well in slightly shadier spots (though tread lightly with basil and dill, which are soft-leaved, but require full sun)"

Following this, I have a bunch of questions!

- Given the time of the year (and the conditions of my apartment), I think it may be a bit too late to start growing from seeds, what do you think? Would seedlings be a better option, or shall I go for fully grown plants and then just transplant them to my pots?

- Indoor or outdoor? I have indoor window ledges where I put the Aloe Vera for example, but I also have a fire escape (where I am not supposed to put any stuff ;)), which is also facing north (out of one of the windows). What would you recommend?

- As this is just a first experiment (hopefully not a depressing one!), and given that this is just for 2 people, i was just thinking of using a couple of small plastic pots we got from those herbs they sell in the supermarkets, although I am open to suggestions for other type of pots and materials, etc. (I guess this will also depend on the location, if I end up using the fire escape thingy, I guess I'll need to hang them on the sides so the stairs don't block the sun light!)

- DIY. As I said, I am a bit on the cheap here, so any suggestions for replacing things that I need to buy with recycled materials you can find around home is much appreciated!

Thanks very much in advance for your help!
Oct 8, 2017
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Birmingham, AL USA
Hardiness Zone
United States
I was reflecting on which plants to grow in an available row of my garden today and came across 5 types of herbs that I would like to grow, but really would like to grow them year round. Now I had actually gotten a Home Depot gift card for Christmas and picked up a couple of 24" grow lights which I thought would be used for seed starting but I am now thinking of putting lima beans in the garden row and setting up a very small double stack pvc pipe hydro garden. Herbs are exceptionally easy to grow, and like a strong sun generally, and a fair moisture, but not damp. I would think a potting soil and containers of the diameter of a tea pitcher would suffice. I guess it has more to do with the size of your window sill really. An elongated box might work for chives but something round for bushy plants like thyme perhaps? The size will have something to do with the quantity you eat of course, so I would consider that as an important detail. I would not use mint much at all for example but cilantro and my need for pico de gallo dip go hand in hand. I would imagine a north facing window would be insufficient light for some, but you cannot always say, as reflected light off of another building may well make the difference. Thats just the fun part of figuring it out. I would use cut off milk jugs for their size if you want, placed in a water basin tray something like a plastic plate or better a pie tin.

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