A simple tutorial for creating an herb container garden at home so you will have herbs to enjoy and cook with all year long.
We usually keep a kitchen garden full of herbs right near our back porch. That way we can run outside easily to clip off a few bits while we are cooking. At times our gardens are in limbo while we are doing landscaping or remodeling. But I can’t be without my herbs all summer – especially my basil for making pesto! So then, I create a few pots of herbs to keep on my porch instead.
Container gardens are a perfect solution if you don’t have the yard space for a garden. They are easy to make and easy to move around. If you don’t have enough sun in any particular spot, you can move the pots to follow whatever sun you do have. At the end of your outdoor growing season, try your luck at bringing perennial herbs indoors.
Here are some simple instructions for making your own herb container garden this year!
Choose Your Herbs
There are so many great herbs for cooking. If growing herbs is new for you, just choose the herbs you tend to use most in your kitchen. My top 3 herbs are basil, tarragon and rosemary. Mint (great for tea!) is especially good to grow in a container because if you don’t contain it, it will take over your garden! I usually buy starter plants but you can certainly grow herbs from seeds if you have the time and patience to do it!
Here are a few recommendations:
Plant the Pots
It’s not rocket science to plant a pot of herbs. All you really need is a few pots (I prefer ceramic over plastic), your herbs and some organic potting mix. A pair of gardening gloves and a trowel are nice to have as well. Since we do home composting, I create my own potting mix by mixing compost with peat moss and sometimes a bit of sand. Good drainage is key for happy herbs so be sure your pot has a large hole in the bottom for water to drain.
Fill pot about half full with potting mix.
Remove plants from original containers and loosen roots a bit with your fingers.
Place herbs in pot with base of plant about 1/2 to 1 inch below the rim of the pot.
Fill in with potting soil up to the base of the plant. Do not overfill container with soil or it will spill out every time you water it.
Feel free to mix more than one type of herb per pot. I love mixing tall basil plants with bushy oregano and thyme that will hang over the edge of the pot. Put large plants in the back and smaller ones in the front. Extra large plants like the rosemary plant you see in the top photo are better off in their own pots.
Maintain Your Herbs
Herbs need a lot of sun to thrive. Choose a sunny spot for your pots, preferably one with 8 hours of direct sun. If you used a good quality potting mix, there should be no need to fertilize your plants but if you do choose to fertilize, be sure to choose an organic fertilizer. Don’t forget to water your plants regularly. Potted plants can dry out quickly, especially when they are in full sun.
Many herbs are perennials but keep in mind that perennial plants are not hardy in all zones. In Minnesota, my chives and oregano always come back. Tarragon is temperamental and rosemary almost always dies over winter. I bring my rosemary and lavender plants indoors in the winter but sadly, I’m not always able to keep them alive.
Have you tried container gardening? What are your favorite herbs to plant?
Micaela Preston is natural living educator and safe and sustainable product activist. She has spoken at conferences and events, has lobbied for safer chemical laws, and has consulted with many brands and businesses. Her book, Practically Green: Your Guide to Eco Friendly Decision Making was published in 2009.
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