Basic and gourmet herbs are readily available in most local grocery stores these days – at least that’s what I see. So why would I or anyone want to grow their own. Well for one, you don’t usually need an entire bunch of any herb when cooking. And two, the level satisfaction of being able to open your back door and clip a few leaves off of whatever plant you need, is fantastic.
Getting back to our zen gardening series, we wanted to show how going small and staying focused can bring plenty of rewards. And there is nothing smaller and more focused than a container garden. Plus, herbs are on the easier end of the growing difficulty scale. And you can choose the herbs that best suit your taste and needs.
I don’t have much growing this year but last year I added several herbs to a pot that sits right outside my front door and who’s main inhabitant is a clematis vine. There was space and the vine was happy to share. I was able to fit in several 4″ containers: Sage, Chives, Tarragon and Oregano (yes, it’s a fair sized pot). It’s also has automatic watering so the hardest thing was remembering to collect a few pieces before I started cooking.
Setting up Your Own Herb Container
To start, think about what herbs would you like to have on hand? Do you want them for cooking? Potpourri? Or medicinal purposes? Of course, you don’t have to choose one over the other. But our suggestion is to start out simple to not get overwhelmed. Choose 4-5 herbs and maybe one or two containers. (Unless you’re planning to give everyone you know a potpourri satchel this holiday season, how many herb plants do you really need on hand?)
Choosing Your Container
If you have enough space, bigger is going to mean your planter won’t dry out at quickly. I’ve seen plenty of herbs growing in 10 – 14″ pots, but you’ll have to water more frequently. 18 – 24″ is better. Terracotta is perfect and these kinds of pots are not that expensive. If the weight of the pot is an issue, there are a lot of great plastic pots on the market. But you can also get creative and plant in just about anything.
Most herbs come from the Mediterranean region and are adapted to lean soil. Any decent planting mix should be perfect. They also enjoy a little compost and mulch.
If you have a hose bib nearby, setting up a battery operated timer is not difficult. You can also use ollas, or another version that incorporates wine bottles, the plant nanny. Or it can be just you and your watering can. Depending on the weather and your climate, you’ll want to water ever (3 – 5 days). Poke your finger into the soil to test for moisture. And if that is not your style, there is a device for that – a soil moisture meter.
Drum Roll please! Now it’s time to choose a few. For cooking, if you have enough sun, some of the most common and popular herbs are: Basil, Thyme, Chives, Tarragon, Mint, – your taste will decide.
I loved having the chives on hand. They add just a little but not too much of an onion flavor.
As we get later into summer, basil is almost a must have. Tomatoes are everywhere and this herb just pairs perfectly. Caprese salad, tomato/basil pizza, pastas – you can go crazy…
As you can see, after your initial set up (container, soil, and plants), it is fairly simple to take care of your new herb garden. The two things you’ll need to remember: regular watering and don’t forget to harvest!
Enjoy your new herb planter,
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