Four ways to bring the sunshine indoors all season long.

herb garden
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If the bone-chilling winter weather has you counting down the days until you can get out and plant your garden, take heart. Tending an indoor herb garden will not only provide fresh herbs for your table but will also appease your yearning to grab the trowel and hoe and start staking out garden beds. An indoor herb garden, perfect for those who live in an apartment and are short on outdoor space, is an inexpensive and productive hobby for those rainy days you can't venture outside. Read these simple tips and get ready to plant your own indoor herb garden.

Find a Sunny Spot

The ideal setting for the garden is the kitchen, where herbs will be close by and you can easily access them while you are cooking, but any warm and sunny spot in your house will work. Herbs need as much natural light as possible, so place them near a window where they will get at least 4 hours of sun every day. Windows that face south or southwest are best for the maximum amount of sun; north-facing windows are usually not bright enough.

Use the Right Pots and Potting Mix

During the winter the heat from the furnace can cause the indoor air to be very dry, sapping moisture from everything, including clay pots and the herb garden itself. Use plastic or glazed pots (make sure they have drainage holes), and choose a premium potting mix that is best suited for indoor use– never use soil from your backyard. Again, because of the dry air, keep a close eye on the plants to make sure they don't become dehydrated.

Provide Proper Drainage

Herbs do not like wet, soggy legs. Don't allow them to sit in water, which will lead to root rot. Use a saucer, liner, or drain pan under each pot to catch excess water and protect your furniture surfaces, as well. Terra cotta saucers let moisture seep through, so save them for outdoors and choose rubber, plastic, or metal pans for your indoor herb garden.

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If You Are Comfortable, So Are Your Herbs

Indoor herbs like the inside temperature to be around 65 to 70 degrees F, if not warmer. If temperatures outside drop below 55 degrees, however, move your herb garden away from the cold windows, if possible; you should definitely keep the herbs from touching the cold glass. Don't ever keep basil on a windowsill in the winter (remember the air next to a window will be cooler in winter), as it will droop and fade in the cool air. Basil prefers indoor temperatures to hover in the 70's, and it will thrive indoors if you provide it with plenty of sun and warmth.