Start your indoor herb garden now

Some herbs are annual plants, such as those planted in spring that will die out when cold weather arrives, like basil. Before you lose them to a frost or freeze, take cuttings and get them rooted. If you don't have plants for cuttings, check with gardening friends or purchase small plants at the garden center.

Take cuttings from perennial herbs too, like rosemary and lavender. Root all the cuttings in small pots, pinching back top growth. When a gentle tug on the plant meets resistance, the herbs are rooting and will soon be ready to plant into the herb garden container.

Prepare the soil or purchase potting mix. Add a layer of gravel on the bottom of the container, to add weight and increase drainage. Mix some organic compost into the soil, if you have some available. Herbs grow in all sorts of soil types, but require good drainage.

Allow a few weeks for the cuttings to grow roots in the small container. Clip or pinch back top growth. Removing top growth is especially important on herbs, it encourages growth and helps create a compact, attractive plant. Place the small containers in an area that gets some afternoon shade if temperatures are soaring in your area, as they are in mine.

Planting the Herb Container

When your cuttings have rooted and show some growth on top, you can move them into the herb container. Make sure it is lightweight enough to move around once you have it inside. This will accommodate the need for artificial lighting for the herb container, if needed. Cover the planted container with another layer of pebbles or small gravel.

Allow the newly planted pot to rest in a sunny area. Water and feed the cuttings with a houseplant fertilizer. Move inside when autumn arrives.

Your new herb garden will have a good start and provide fresh herbs for winter cooking. Once inside, locate the container in a window or other area that gets as much sunlight as possible. If you have no window that provides 8 hours of sun daily, place the pot under fluorescent lights for 12 hours daily.

More on herbs from this contributor:

Yarrow, the herb for all seasons

Starting herbs from seed

Guide to Rosemary in the landscape