A container herb garden could be a great choice if you haven’t got a garden or if you have limited space. Many herbs flourish really well in containers, and container herb gardens have the advantage that they can be positioned very near your kitchen door. The great thing about this is that when it’s wet or dark outside you can easily harvest the herbs you need, for whatever recipe you may want to follow for your cooking. If you think it’s too late in the season then you are wrong, you can create your container herb garden right now.
Choosing your herbs
You can buy your herbs as young plants or grow them from cuttings or seed. I recently bought some Basil at the supermarket and planted it out after a few days, it’s doing really well.
I recommend creating your container herb garden using selections from the following list of herbs:
Chervil, dill, fennel, lemongrass
Plant these herbs at the edge of your container:
Basil, caraway, chives, marjoram, savory
Plant these herbs between the edge and the centre:
Coriander, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme
Unfortunately, Mint is not an ideal herb to have in a container with other herbs, due to its vigorous root system; it is much better in a pot on its own, as it tends to take over and the other herbs will suffer as a result.
What Sort of Container?
You’ve got lots of choice when it comes to containers; Terracotta pots are a popular choice but large ones can be heavy and difficult to move around once. Plastic pots are a good alternative. However, I recommend considering a wooden container. Wood is attractive and it won’t freeze or break during bad weather. The advantage of using a pressure treated wooden container is that it will withstand rot for up to 15 years. You can of course have a go at building your own herb container
If you want a good choice of herbs in your container herb garden, choose a container which has width of at least 36 inches (91cm). This size of container will enable you to plant around eight different herbs. You can of course use a container as small as a window box and plant just a couple of herbs.
What Container Compost to Use
Use good quality compost and mix it with perlite in the ratio of 1 part compost to 2 parts perlite. By adding perlite you will help to ensure that your container has good drainage. Choose compost which has added nutrient to get the herbs off to a good start.
How to Maintain Your Container Herb Garden
Your container should be kept in a position where it can enjoy a fair amount of sun during the day. Most herbs flourish in the sun. However, I currently have basil and chives in the shade and both are doing fine. My chives survived the harsh winter and have flowered twice since!
Keep your container well watered. The top of the compost will dry out very quickly but you can test for moisture levels by inserting your finger into the compost by about an inch. If the compost isn’t fairly moist, water the container.
After about a month you should begin watering your container regularly with a nutrient mix to make up for the nutrients that the container loses through watering.
At the end of the year when some of your herbs start to die back, remove the perennial herbs and put them in their own pots, and protect them as best you can from cold winter weather. These perennial herbs can be used the following year. The annuals will need to be purchased again in the spring.
Enjoy Your Herbs!
When you start using the herbs from your container herb garden you’ll notice the difference in taste from herbs you buy in shops and supermarkets. This taste difference and the convenience of having herbs ready to hand whenever you want them will make all the effort of creating your container herb garden well worthwhile and will inspire you to get creative in the kitchen!