Sydney Garden is Fine + What Herbs to Grow in NYC?

I have been very pleased that so many of you are concerned that our Sydney garden will suffer in our absence. Thanks for writing and let me know! Nice to know I am not alone in loving that garden. Oh, how I misses it . . .

To reassure you: the garden has an automatic irrigation system. On top of that my parents and my sister are keeping a close eye on it and handwatering any of the plants that seem in need. They’re also killing any caterpillars or other evil beasties they come across. Do I not have the best family ever?

Here is the last photo I took of my beloved garden:

Look at the gorgeous new leaves on the gum tree. So pretty. And the grevillea. Gorgeous!

I think I shall go to the famers’ market and buy some herbs that can survive on a window sill. So far the only one I’ve had success with has been marjoram. Anyone else successfully grown other herbs on the window sill in teeny tiny pots in a very polluted city? Please to advise me!


  1. Jessica on #

    According to Urban Homesteading (which I just happen to be reading, you lucky dog!), chives, parsley, cilantro and thyme are “reliable.” They also say that basil and rosemary prefer to be outside, but can do alright on a window sill as long as they spend some of the day outside.

  2. Carissa on #

    I just wanted to say I’m a HUGE fan of your books, especially “How to Ditch Your Fairy.” I was wondering, do you think you’ll ever write a sequel?

  3. Ronni on #

    My mother grows mint on the windowsill of a flat in Sydney. I’m not sure if Sydney is as polluted as New York, though.

  4. Lauren on #

    Yep I was just about to say cilantro, and basil, but she said it for me. Also Another one I find that works is Dill

  5. Q on #

    Basil has always worked for me, and it’s really lovely to have fresh basil hanging around. I don’t know how pollution will affect it, but I suspect if it gets enough (but not too much) sunlight and water it will be okay.

  6. Marrije on #

    I am a good plant killer, but thyme and rosemary mostly stay alive at my place. Basil’s good, too, though it tends to die on me (if we don’t eat it first), which means we have to regularly buy new ones. Which isn’t an enormous hardship, since they are quite cheap. I’d say experiment!

  7. cristina on #

    I agree with those saying cilantro and parsley –they grow well on my Very polluted Mexico City. Also, chile piquin [but that’s a bit bigger]

  8. Jennifer on #

    I’m currently growing herbs and what-not on my balcony in a super-polluted city – Hanoi.

    My basil and coriander are just hanging in there, and the chives are slightly better. Nothing I can really pick though, except for the rocket – it’s amazing! Every pasta dish is a winner with these leaves! Good luck!

  9. sherry on #

    I find oregano is the easiest herb to grow in a pot. But it needs a fair amount of sun.

  10. stacy on #

    Great idea. I just got new house plants because my old ones died while moving. I saw several herbs as I was about to check out but thought they wouldn’t do well indoors. Great to know differently–I might make a second trip.

  11. claire on #

    European basils do well in a closed window sill with plenty of light and water. Dunno about the Asian ones. Chives work out well, too, but with chives the issues is how much/often to cut, whereas with basil it’s just kinda obvious.

  12. Mary Arrrr on #

    One of the tricks with basil is to just sow the whole pot with seeds. Let all the plants grow, harvesting them while still fairly small. You get lots of small leaves, but usually you get some basil, rather than the disaster of nurturing a single plant along until big enough to harvest, and having it die the day you were planning to use it for dinner. I have very bad luck with basil, but can handle this method.

  13. Sandstorm on #

    Your garden is lovely! Also, plants breath carbon dioxide, not oxygen, so the pollution may not be too bad for them.

  14. Emily Gigs on #

    My friend has had stunning luck with mint, both the regular and chocolate mint varieties, indoors and outdoors. Her mint plant just revived itself after a winter spent on the fire escape–can’t beat that–and by the summer it will produce enough leaves for weekly mojito nights.

  15. Krystle on #

    Rosemary, it can survive anything. Believe me, I have a black thumb and I can’t kill it. It smells great and its awesome when you put it in ginger chicken ramen.

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