Growing Herbs in Pots
Growing Herbs in Pots
Designed by Brenda Hyde
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Some of you may not have room at all for herbs unless they are in pots. Never fear, you can have a pot garden! Many of the herbs will grow fine in pots when they have plenty of sun and are watered on a regular basis. Even if you are in an apartment with a patio or balcony you can do this. Chances are you have a sunny space, and the herbs will love the heat!
First, lets talk again about the soil for pots. Use a good potting soil- if it doesn't have lime
stone added-then add 1 tsp. per 6 inch pot--2 tsp. for 12 inch etc. It doesn't have to be exact. Don't use garden soil--it's too heavy for pots and won't work as well. The smallest pot you should use for herbs is 6 inches (across). This size works well for outside shelving or windowsills. The 8, 10 and 12 inch work great. All your pots don't need to be the same size. Use what you have! The ultimate are the half whiskey type barrels. You can get a lot of herbs in one of those! BUT, it can't be moved easily, so place it before filling with soil.
The pots must have good drainage or the plant roots may rot. Unglazed terra cotta works the best for all types of herbs. Plastic pots can work for mints and other herbs that like moisture but you still have to be so careful to not overwater. Group the plastic away from the clay, so you can adjust the watering schedule.
What herbs grow best in containers? In this article we're discussing containers placed outside--on a deck, porch, patio etc. These herbs tend to do better in pots: parsley, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, basil, thyme, chives, lemon verbena, mints, nasturtiums, sage, cilantro, shorter varieties of dill, tarragon, calendula, chervil, coriander, and summer savory. Wow, that is a lot of culinary herbs! You'll be able to cook, make vinegars, create blends and still have enough to freeze! There are more herbs than this that will be able to adapt to pots, so don't be afraid to
experiment if you have an idea.
What is the most important thing to remember when growing herbs in pots? Watering daily when it doesn't rain and pinching out herbs that tend to grow tall. Pinch from the middle, harvest from the sides later. Once you have gotten your watering schedule down (be sure to ask someone to do it for you if you go out of town) then make sure you harvest on a regular basis when the herbs are ready. Do not allow them to bloom--especially the basil. Keep the herbs clipped, neat and trim. You can add sphagnum moss, wood chips, or gravel to the top of your containers to help keep moisture in too. If you are in a dry, hot climate it would be an added benefit for your plants to be misted on a daily basis.
Some plants that can be a nuisance in the herb bed, aren't in a pot. Mints are a good example. They can be kept under control so much better in pot. Their roots can't spread, and if you harvest often they won't bloom and reseed either! A large pot of chocolate mint is no doubt one of my favorite things.
So, how do you decide what to plant? Figure out how much space you can give to your pots. They should get at least 6 hours of sun per day. Gather all of your empty pots together to see what you have available. Decide if you should buy a few more and go from there.Think about what you want from your herb garden. Do you want herbs for soups, stews, meats and vegetables? Do you want to make vinegars? Or maybe dry extra for winter? Sit down with paper and pencil and write all of this out. Eliminate the herbs you really don't think you will use. Here are some ideas-some of which includes tomatoes and peppers:
Salads: Nasturtiums, tomatoes, basil, chives, oregano, parsley
Italian: oregano, basil, patio type tomato, marjoram, rosemary
Mexican: cilantro, pepper plant, oregano,
Fragrance: lavender, rosemary, miniature roses, mints
Vinegars: dill, basil, oregano, nasturtium, chives, sage
Finally, I have some tips on individual herbs and the size pots they may need and a few other tidbits.
A row of the smaller, 6 inch pots would work well for thyme, oregano, cilantro or marjoram. 8 inch pots work better for chives, parsley, and basils. The bigger 10-12 inch pots work the best for herbs such as rosemary, sage, lavender and the mints.
Lemongrass can be grow in a pot outdoors after the nights are above 60 degrees F. The container should be at least 12 inches wide and deep. Let it almost dry out between waterings. You'll have to bring it in if you have hard frosts, but it can stay outside the entire summer.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless when it comes to pot gardens!