How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden in Your NYC Apartment

Living in NYC has a significant number of advantages and perhaps an equal number of disadvantages. If your plant-growing talent wilts in a small apartment, don’t blame the Big Apple. The trick is in weighing the pros and cons and then adapting to get the best of everything NYC can give. Soon enough, you’ll be a few short steps away from creating a gorgeous herb garden in your NYC apartment.

Why herbs?

You can commonly find most herbs as wild plants in nature. The fact that they can live on their own has made them resilient to pests, and most importantly, rather low maintenance. You won’t need to water them often; they won’t require a special type of soil. And in turn for a bit of sun, water, and a cozy pot, you can harvest them and enrich your meals. Or you can simply breathe in their aromatic scent and admire the green.

So, when it comes to herbs, you can’t go wrong. Your choices may vary from bushy rosemary, fragrant oregano, fresh mint to leafy basil, aromatic thyme, or include all at once. Choose some of these plants ideal for apartments and enjoy their silent company – in NYC, you’ll come to appreciate it.

Urban agriculture 101: Setting up an herb garden in your NYC apartment

Moving between apartments and settling in into your new NYC home will take time, depending on how many belongings you bring. Especially if you are moving in with a collection of indoor plants. Luckily, transferring your home garden is possible without causing it any harm in transport. As long as your plants travel with you, well-watered and wrapped up tightly, a short-distance relocation should not pose an issue. However, if you wish to start an indoor herb garden in your new home after the move, you’re in the right (s)pot.

Joan Brothers, owner of Manhattan Boutique Real Estate owns a boutique residential real estate company specializing in New York City apartments said she is amazed at how people use their windows and terraces to cultivate herbs she is seeing people from April to October successfully have an indoor garden. She says it “adds vitality to an apartment”.

Planting for the (im)patient

Those who aren’t in a hurry to see their home garden mature can start it by planting seeds. Pay attention to the seed producer’s instructions regarding the time of planting and the type of soil. Buying seeds ensures that you get only viable ones, ready to grow into healthy plants.

Most herbs are not picky, but you should still take the time to look for quality organic soil. Think twice before scooping dirt from the local park. You might be picking up insect larvae, harmful bacteria or fungi, and other unpleasant materials.

If you’re too impatient to watch your green companions grow over the slow months and wish to set up your indoor herb garden as fast as possible, buy sprouts or grown plants from your local nursery. While you’re there, seek advice on the best manner of care.

The right pot

Of all the remodeling ideas for your apartment and ways to spruce up your place without too much effort, setting up an indoor garden is one of the most economical. However, if you are starting from the ground up (pun intended), get prepared. Get affordable plastic pots for your plants and make sure they have drain holes and saucers of adequate size.

Herbs may not need much maintenance but they do need some space. Keep different plants in separate pots even if they belong to the same species. They will need some room for expansion over time, especially if they are perennial evergreen shrubs such as rosemary.

If you worry you’ll overwater or not water your herbs enough, choose a self-watering pot for your herbs. These special planters come with a handy little reservoir that allows the plant to soak up just as much water as it needs.

Sunny disposition

Most herbs you find in your favorite Italian foods are Mediterranean plants, accustomed to dry soil and plenty of sun. To choose the right place for your garden, you need to know your herbs’ preferences. Hopefully, at least one side of your apartment will get enough sun for your indoor garden, which is between six and eight hours a day.

The ideal disposition of your apartment regarding the amount of sunlight is when it faces south or southwest. However, most NYC apartments do not have that luxury and face – another building. As an alternative, you can put your garden on your balcony during the day, outside the window if possible, or right next to the window.

As joining two apartments into one is not the option, you need to find another way to create space for your plants. The most underutilized space in every apartment is its walls. You should take advantage of shelves and create an artistic vertical garden. It will refresh your small NYC apartment beyond your wildest expectations.

A few more practical tips

Setting up and maintaining an herb garden in your NYC apartment is a perfect hobby. It doesn’t require too much time or effort and rewards even the minimum of attention abundantly. It doesn’t mean you should take your indoor herb garden for granted, though.

  • Plants can talk in their own way – look for the signs. If their leaves are sagging, they need more water. On the other hand, if the leaves turn yellow, they have too much water. In case the tips of the leaves are brownish and crumble at the touch, the air is too dry – sprinkle them.
  • After watering, do not let the water pool in the planter saucer. If you regularly keep the drained water in the saucer, the root will start to rot. Moreover, you’ll be inviting mold, and the stale water with dissolved matter from the soil will quickly start to smell unpleasant.
  • Sometimes, even the best care can’t save a herb from plant disease or a parasite. If you notice any kind of webbing or mite-like insects on your herb, move it away from other plants. You may apply an organic pesticide and try saving the plant but think twice about eating its leaves.

Living in New York City doesn’t have to deprive you of your makeshift greenhouse. Even if you live in one of the tiniest NYC apartments, you could find. The right spot and the right pot make every transplant to NYC grow strong and happy.

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