NGA Articles: Herbs in a Pot

Herbs in a Pot

By: Charlie Nardozzi

There’s nothing like a home cooked meal flavored with herbs cut fresh from your garden. The best part is that you don’t need to cultivate an entire backyard plot to grow enough herbs to use in meals – a simple container on a deck or patio can provide herbs all season, as you need them. Here’s how to create an herb container garden.

Materials List

  • Large plastic or wooden container (see below)
  • Potting soil
  • Herb plants of your choice
  • Fertilizer
  • Water

Steps

  1. Choose containers. Select a container with drainage holes, the larger the better. An 18-inch diameter faux terra cotta or half whiskey barrel provides enough space to grow a variety of herb plants. If you don’t have a large container, select a number of smaller pots and plant a single herb in each one.

  2. Choose soil. Fill the container with bagged potting soil. If you’re using a very large container, fill the bottom with a layer of empty soda cans. The cans will take up volume so you’ll need less soil to fill the pot.

  3. Choose herbs. Select herbs that you commonly use in cooking, but don’t forget to try a few new ones. It’s easiest to purchase herb plants from a garden or home center rather than starting with herb seeds, and plants will give you instant results. You can usually find basil, cilantro, thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, and parsley at garden centers. Some unusual herbs to try include lemongrass, lovage, and French tarragon.

  4. Plant your herb garden! Moisten the soil thoroughly. Arrange the plants so that those that grow tall, such as basil and lemongrass, are in the center and cascading varieties of herbs, such as thyme and oregano, are along the edge. Plant them close together: 10 herb plants will fit in a half whiskey barrel!

  5. Water and fertilize. Sprinkle a time-release fertilizer in the pot, scratch it into the surface and water well after planting. Water frequently to keep soil evenly moist, but not sopping wet.

  6. Harvest regularly. Once the plants show new growth, you can begin harvesting. Snip off whole stems rather than individual leaves to encourage bushy, new growth. Never take more than one third of a single plant at a time. By following this pattern your plants should supply you with seasonings through the entire growing season.

Tips

  • To add a visual appeal, try growing attractive ornamental versions of culinary herbs, such as purple basil and tricolor sage.
  • If herb plants get overgrown, cut them back severely to force new growth.


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