I’ve come to the conclusion that, if you have a window that you can even possibly use, you need some herbs. Fresh herbs are delightful, but entirely too expensive at the grocery store. An entire living plant can be had at the flea market (or wherever) for less than the same amount (dead) at the grocery. Add $2 of terra cotta pots from Wal-Mart, and voila! Money saving, decoration, and tastiness, all in a single little item.
But how do you use them? you might ask. Basil is delicious in any dish with tomatoes — pizza, spaghetti sauce, lasagna, you name it! It dresses it up a bit. And I’m assuming, since it’s green and edible, that it is probably at least somewhat nutritious. Parsley is quite usable in all the same dishes as basil, as well as being great decorative accent to make a plate or dish look pretty.
But I’ll kill them all! you may protest. They’re really not hard to care for. They just need a window that gets a decent amount of sun, and they prefer to be watered daily. My dining room window, unfortunately, was too shady and murdered my two poor basil plants within weeks of moving to the new apartment.
If you have a sunny kitchen window over your sink, that’s the ideal place to put the plants. Ideally, they need to be watered every day, so having them within easy reach of your sink sprayer is great if you’re absent-minded like me. My plants are in our bedroom window, and I try to give them a little spritz with my water bottle every morning or evening. If you forget, they’ll try to remind you by drooping — they can droop quite a bit and still perk up within a few hours.
Basil is best if you pinch off the very top leaves — it’ll send out sprouts from the sides instead of getting so tall and lanky. Parsley — you cut the stalks you need, and new little baby stalks come up from the middle.
Potting tip: My two previous basil plants, bought at the same time, were in two different pots. I noticed that my blue glazed pot from Wal-Mart needed watering less often than my terra cotta pot. Why, I don’t know. But if you have difficulty remembering to water every single day, you may try one of the glazed sort of pots. (Update: Grammy says, “The thing about terra cotta is that it has no glaze and breathes more than the glazed pot. The glaze acts as a seal.” Seems reasonable to me!)
(Howie-cat thinks that the parsley gets in the way of spying on the neighbors, but that’s just his opinion.)
So go and just try to raise at least a wee bit of basil. Even if you only use it once or twice before killing it, you’re probably still coming out cheaper than buying it at Kroger!