Container gardens
March 16, 2023

Container Gardening 101: Grow Fresh Herbs Virtually Anywhere

Container Gardening 101: Grow Fresh Herbs Virtually Anywhere

By Lisbeth Irish, RDN, CDN, CDCE

Have you ever snapped off a piece of fresh basil, cilantro, or rosemary? Immediately the herb’s fragrance fills the air. Instant aroma therapy!  

Adding fresh herbs can make an average-tasting dish turn into something special.

Growing them in a container can be especially rewarding, whether you start with seeds or seedlings. Some people enjoy seeing the tiny shoots emerge, shed their seed shells, and burst into seedlings. Other people like to purchase seedlings, as they often require less care in those early days, and they are ready to harvest sooner.

Growing your own herbs and food-producing plants can be budget-friendly too. For a small investment, you can perk up your meals and do something creative at the same time. Container gardening makes all of these benefits available to just about anyone, no matter how small your home.

How to get started:

  • Containers with drainage – Poke holes in a yogurt container or add some clean stones to the bottom of a container without holes. Make sure you put a small plate or a plastic lid under the container to protect your windowsill from leaks. 
  • Potting soil – A small bag will do. Don't use soil from a garden outside; it won't have all the nutrients your plant will need to grow well, and you may bring in some hitchhikers (bugs!)
  • Seeds or seedlings – Seedlings (small plants) are a little easier to grow, but seeds may be less expensive. Both can be purchased by SNAP recipients at stores that accept SNAP EBT. Learn if you are eligible for SNAP by calling 1-800-342-3009.
  • Light Pick your sunniest window. If the windowsill area gets drafty or cold when the sun goes down, move your plants to a warmer place in the room. 
  • Water Water your plants when the soil dries out, but don't overwater, as it may cause root rot.

Here are a pair of videos about planting seedlings. You’ll find them helpful as you start your plants:

Now what? Sit back and enjoy the results!

Check back next month for ideas on how to use what you’ve grown.

Lisbeth Irish RDN, CDN, CDCES is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist with the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA). She has over 25 years of experience working as a Registered Dietitian in a variety of settings and currently oversees the NYSOFA SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education program for older adults in New York State. Lisbeth is also a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. She attended NY Medical College and has a degree in Nutrition from SUNY Oneonta. Lisbeth enjoys reading, nature, and traveling. Lisbeth says she feels very fortunate to be working with such a dedicated group of professionals at NYSOFA.

For more great tips, watch Lisbeth’s monthly Facebook livestream “Ask The Experts: Nutrition Edition” at 1 p.m. on the second Friday of every month. You can tune in to the program on NYSOFA’s Facebook page.