While Spring is just around the corner, many people are itching to have fresh herbs at the ready. In places where temperatures remain chilly at least until April, what’s a NYC foodie to do? Her question reads:
“What do you suggest for those of us who love to cook with fresh herbs, but are stuck living in charming, yet space challenged studios in NYC?! It’s really winter out here, so I would plant indoors. I get lovely even, but indirect sunlight all day. Thanks for your help!”
The answer is growing lights. Most herbs require about 14 hours of good light per day in order to thrive, and unless you want to chase the sun from windowsill to windowsill, growing lights are your best solution. There are several options:
Full Spectrum light bulbs
Most florescent and incandescent light bulbs don’t provide the full spectrum of light waves that sunlight does. Plants require both the blue and red ends of the spectrum in order to grow big and strong. Full spectrum bulbs are the closest thing to the sun. You can fit them into regular florescent light fixtures, they come in many sizes, and they are available in most hardware stores or nurseries. You can also order anything from a full growing system to just bulbs from Gardener’s Supply.
T-8 Sunlite Fixture w/ Bulbs (click on the picture below)
Another option, which is more self contained and smaller (since you mentioned that you live in a space challenged studio), is something that has recently become available from Gaiam.com as well as some other catalogues. I haven’t tried it myself, but it looks like it would be a good solution to your scenario.
AeroGrow Indoor Garden (looks like they are now owned by Miracle Gro)
The last option I’ll suggest is the least expensive alternative:
When I was living in a very dark apartment with no direct sunlight at all, I resurrected a small, old under-mount florescent light fixture and installed it underneath a bookshelf above my desk. I replaced the one light that it had with a full spectrum light (it was only about 2 feet long). It wasn’t quite enough light for my seedlings, but I think if I had 2 or more bulbs, it would have done the trick. Give any or all of these a try and let me know how it goes. As always, if anyone has some golden gems of wisdom to share about indoor herb gardening, please share the wealth here.