Growing a Container Herb Garden
Six Easy Steps
Starting a container herb garden is very easy if you follow these six easy steps -
- Find a suitable location. Herbs do well with about six hours of direct sunlight a day. Outdoors or in, a south, east or west location usually will provide just the right light.
Trying to get away with less will cause your plants to be leggy and weak. If you don’t have a spot that will get a full six hours of sun, supplement with a full spectrum grow light.
- Pick a container. You imagination is your only limitation, but shoot for a depth of between 10”–12”. A soil filled burlap bag on the balcony works as well as a glazed ceramic pot on the patio.
An important thing to keep in mind is that the container will be holding moisture, so you will need to protect any surfaces that might be damaged by water.
Also, you need to allow room for drainage, so allow an extra inch or so for rocks or pot shards. Containers without drain holes are not recommended.
- Choose your growing medium. There are mixed opinions on what is sustainable as far as growing medium goes. There are soil less mixtures that hold water well and are lightweight.
They are made from peat, vermiculite and perlite. Peat is the ingredient that causes some concern. Reports are that most peat sold in the United States is harvested sustainably from Canada, but that doesn’t hold true worldwide.
As an alternative you can use standard potting soil amended with coir (a sustainable and perfect pH coconut fiber), vermiculite and perlite for extra moisture holding capacity and greater sustainability.
- Plant Properly. Seed sowing should be in moist potting medium according to the seed packet. Always buy fresh seed, last year’s leftovers just won’t germinate well. Planting depth is very important, so be sure to follow directions.
Keep an eye out for the first sprouts and thin to the proper distance apart. Overcrowding does not benefit the plant or you. When transplanting plugs, fill the container 2/3 full of moist potting medium, put in the plant and fill around it with more medium. Gently tamp down. Water thoroughly.
- Herb care. Most herbs like to be watered thoroughly then allowed to dry out, mint being one exception. Feel the mix at least 2 inches down and don’t water if the medium is still wet. If you keep your plants on a tight water regimen, organically fertilize monthly, keep air circulating and leave enough room for the plants to grow, you should have problem free plants.
If you do need to remove insect pests, only use organic methods, since you will be eating the herbs. Unless you are planning to start new plants, pinch off any flowers on annual herbs. Your plants will grow longer.
- Harvesting. Herbs grow best when they are harvested frequently. This keeps the herb’s size under control and encourages continued growth.
Pinching off the tiny new leaves at the top (the apical bud) will encourage the herb growth to go out rather than up. Try it occasionally. New leaves will grow further down on the plant where you harvested before.