Urban Herb Gardening


Lately I have been into fresh herbs. In the past, as poor grad student, I didn’t invest in them often. I found that they would ruin too quickly, and because my schedule was rather unpredictable, I couldn’t always use them right when I bought them. Here in Guate common herbs are quite inexpensive. Cilantro, parsley, and mint are less than .25USD for a huge bundle. When I buy a bunch specifically to make something like chirmol (Guatemalan pico de gallo), I can only use a quarter of what I buy before it ruins. And then herbs like dill, basil, and rosemary cost nearly 2USD for a measly stem. You can’t make pesto from 5 leaves of sweet basil. Sorry. We do without those herbs.

Once I tried to use all the mint and cilantro I bought before they ruin. I made all kinds of salad dressings and dips, and added them to things maybe I shouldn’t have. To be honest I was cilantroed-out. I never thought that would be possible. So I resolved to start my own herb garden.

We do have a garden area which we share with 3 other apartments, but because I am unsure of the public planting policy, and because of the neighbor’s cocker spaniel whom which she can’t seem to control, I decided that I would do an indoor container garden. Also, the avocado tree we have is infested with some type of hairy worm that builds those nests that can quickly take over and entire branch. So I didn’t want any of that getting near my babies.IMG_1870

I was going to grow them from seeds, but every time we made the somewhat inconvenient trek to Superb Agricola, they didn’t have what I was looking for. There is a Vivero (green house) just down the road from us, so last Friday I walked there with an empty backpack. I got parsley, basil (but not the sweet basil- that doesn’t seem to be available here), and mint. Then on Saturday I convinced Héc to take me to another location where I found cilantro and rosemary. Now they are all potted and looking nice in our apartment.

IMG_1800The basil, cilantro, parsley and mint are all together, and the rosemary has its own little pot. I’ve hear that mint can be overwhelming, so I potted it in a smaller plastic container within the big pot in order to tame it a bit. Every morning I open the window so they can get their 6-8 hours of required sun light. I think that the winter here may be just a tad cold for the basil (it can get down to 40º at night), so I might give them a dose of our space heater if they are looking sad.

I am determined to get dill and sweet basil. I may just have my mom illegally send me some.

Now I don’t know much about taking care of herbs, but I am researching it along the way. I’ve already repotted and examined the roots and leaves for aphids and grubs. The last plant I bought from that vivero turned out to be infested with something and died right away. Any tips anyone can offer, I’m all ears.

I can’t wait until they are harvestable. I will keep ya posted.