Get started on your gardening early — indoors

An indoor herb garden is a good way to get off the ground before spring arrives

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If you’re getting anxious to get your gardening started even though it’s still winter, your best opportunity to nurture some plants is with the household variety. Many seniors love gardening and look forward to being able to get started. An indoor herb garden can help you exercise your green thumb before spring officially arrives.

A window box might provide enough sunlight on winter days to try your hand with basil, mint, sage, thyme and any other favorites you think might be useful. An indoor herb garden or other container garden might get you inspired for springtime gardening when the weather finally breaks.

At herbgarden.about.com, Amy Jeanroy said indoor plants need good light, adequate moisture and temperatures. According to Jeanroy, an indoor herb garden is convenient: it’s manageable right at your window and it is usable because you can pick herbs as you are cooking.

Sage dries very well and has all kinds of uses: everything from seasoning chicken to ancient customs of cleansing rooms of oppressive, interfering energy.

Rosemary is versatile, use the leaves for seasoning and stems for crafts. Thyme and oregano are low maintenance for gardeners who forget their plants completely.

Another herb, basil is ideal in a container, great for all types of cooking. Donna Barkwell, owner of Barkwell Farms in Milton-Freewater said, "Basil is a wonderful plant. There’s a new variety. I know they have a large four foot indoor/outdoor basil, you can pick for 12 months. Basil will live as long as you want it to."

Her thoughts on mint: "Mint is so vigorous, a lot of these would last for a good two to three months and then you’d need to start drying them."

You don’t have to restrict yourself to small plants. Tomatoes can be grown indoors as well as other types of plants. "Some people forget about peppers and their medicinal qualities. There are a lot of different kinds, they are so healthy. They can make it all the way through the winter indoors. These are the small hot peppers, a lot of people are eating them, they’re supposed to be so good for you."

Sage is another herb that you can bring indoors, according to Barkwell. "It will do really well for you for two to three months, then you need to start drying it." She suggests special countertop containers with a grow light on them. "They used to be big, bulky and had to be put in the basement. The newer ones are quite attractive and can just be left on the counter in the kitchen. You can grow herbs or tomatoes or whatever."

And you can get yourself inspired for the spring season, that is just a couple months away.

Karlene Ponti can be reached by calling 509-526-8324 or by e-mail at karleneponti@wwub.com.

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