4 Herbs For Your Windowsill

At one point, my kitchen windowsill was lined with four mini planting pots: one lavender, one basil, one peppermint, and one cilantro. That was a brief point in time, since I quickly learned that each of these plants are special, with different needs and unique potentials (yes, I learned that by killing them. Or letting them grow wild). But they are worth it! Since I’ve refilled the pots with fresh herbs, they’ve been very experience-enhancing, whether I’m cooking, focusing, or relaxing.  Below are the benefits and care tips I learned from my own little garden.

Lavender:  Crush a few of these leaves between your fingers and take a whiff, and you’ll see why this herb is a must-have! Known for its calming aroma, lavender is a staple in my house for just that reason. I don’t cook with it, but a satchel of the dried flowers makes one’s underwear drawer smell divine. One of the more resilient plants in my windowsill, lavender can go a few days without water; in fact it prefers a drier pot.

Peppermint: Say ahhhh! This natural breath-freshener is a delight to have at your fingertips. If you let it, a peppermint plant will grow big time. I snipped the top off of some of the stems in mine to keep it from protruding onto my kitchen table. Mint is a wonderful palate cleanser, and also promotes digestion. If you brew dried leaves into a tea, it’s very soothing to a sick tummy. Add to some warm water with lemon for a cleansing drink or add to ice water for a quick pick-me-up. Its strong, sweet fragrance is very useful for its awakening and uplifting effects -- so breathe in the scent of some crushed leaves if you’re feeling drowsy.

Basil: These tasty leaves smell just like Mom’s pizza. Or pesto. Or that Italian dish you love. Its hard-to-miss flavor perks up predictable pasta sauces, and can be a pleasant surprise in fruit-infused water, sandwiches, or ice cream! The trick to basil is watering it daily. Not a full dousing, just enough to moisten the soil. When it’s lacking water, the full, flat leaves start to go limp, but will perk right up after a few sips from the tap. Interestingly, basil leaves can also be used to remedy mosquito bites –just chop a few fresh leaves and rub them on the itchy bump.

Cilantro: This is my absolute favorite of these herbs! I could eat it on just about anything (except maybe cheerios. Well, actually…hmm). This spicy, super-fragrant herb livens up many Mexican or Asian dishes, from stir-fry to salad to spring rolls to tacos! On top of the flavor burst, cilantro is full of antioxidants and fiber which reportedly aid in lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Cilantro is a diva (like basil) and needs plenty of attention in the form of daily drips of water and sunshine.

When you start to use these herbs every day, be conscious of where you are plucking from. Try not to strip all the leaves from any one stem, since the leaves are also how the plant makes its own food! Without any leaves your herb, well, leaves.

These powerful babies can be started from seeds or purchased as already sprouted plants from the farmer’s market or local grocery store.  Whether you start in a small pot or buy a starter, eventually you will need to transfer your plant to a bigger one with some more dirt and a hole in the bottom for drainage. Bonus: sprinkle some natural plant food on top of the soil to nurture the plant as you water. Since my experimental phase, I’ve learned to keep my herbs alive and thriving, and in turn they keep me very alive and thriving. Happy gardening!

Cover Image Source: Flickr

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