Uncommon Goods

My basil even survived my summer vacation, thanks to this self-watering planter

Katie Holdefehr
July 31, 2018
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Growing your own windowsill herb garden is a dream of most home cooks. But caring for these plants is a gentle balancing act: watering it regularly, but without drowning the roots; making sure it gets enough sun, but without scorching the delicate leaves. Add summer vacations that cause you to neglect your plants for a week into the mix, and growing fresh herbs indoors can feel near impossible. But this summer, I found an indoor herb garden kit ($30, ) that makes growing herbs effortless—yes, even if you abandon them for a week.

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When I first opened up the , I'll admit, I was nervous. My summer diet is approximately 50 percent caprese, so I've always wanted to grow fresh basil at home, but living is a small apartment without an outdoor space made it challenging. A slim, stylish glass container garden that could sit right on my sunniest windowsill seemed like the perfect small-space solution, but I was still skeptical that it would grow.

After the first week, I knew I had worried for nothing. Once I had the planter set up, with a wick that absorbs water from the basin in the bottom and transports it up to the plant's roots, I didn't have to think about my basil plant much, except to check that the reservoir at the bottom never ran out of water. Sure, I still have to remember to add water when the basin runs low, but as a notorious over-waterer of houseplants, the self-watering container has been a lifesaver (literally). Within the first week, tiny basil sprouts started to pop up. And two weeks later, I had a full-fledged basil plant that towered over the glass container.

When I went on vacation for a week, I feared for the worst. But by filling up the reservoir right before I left and immediately upon my return (adding an extra dose of the plant food that comes with the kit), the leaves that had wilted ever-so-slightly perked up immediately. This hardy, self-watering planter successfully survived a week on its own.

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For weeks now, I've been picking leaves off of the plant, carefully selecting from all sides to avoid creating bare patches. Combined with fresh mozzarella and tomato (or my new favorite combo, peaches), the homegrown basil tastes so fresh and flavorful. Fresh basil just tastes better when you grow it yourself—but with this kit doing all of the hard work for me, I feel just a little bit guilty taking all of the credit.

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