Don’t plant herbs way out. Plant a container herb garden right outside your kitchen door so that you may quickly run out and snip some while you are cooking dinner. If you set it in a decorative container, then you can feature it on your deck. Show your guests how to “scratch and sniff.” Most people are amazed and thrilled when shown how to rub the leaves of herbs between their fingers and then “sniff” them.
You may plant a culinary container herb garden virtually any time during the growing season, providing you can get the potted herbs.
Here’s a simple, quick “kitchen” herb garden you can put together in a day.
Get the containers. Begin with a 12 inch outside planter. It’s OK if it is a little larger, such as 14 or 15 inches. Also get a 6 inch terra-cotta pot and enough regular potting soil to fill them both up. Don’t get the sort of potting soil with fertilizer or plant food in it; herbs prefer soil that’s not too rich.
Here’s my list of seven culinary must-haves: chives, cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
Transplant the rosemary to the 6 inch terra-cotta pot. Place the entire pot directly into the middle of the ground from the 12 inch (or larger) container. Push it down so that only the fatter part near the peak of the pot is showing. Planting the rosemary in its own pot makes it effortless to bring it indoors for the winter. In addition, it uses the space in the middle of the larger container.
Plant the remaining herbs in a ring round the potted rosemary. If you pretend the container is an analog clock face, plant the remaining herbs from the following positions:
Plant the herbs near the edge of the huge container so that the low-growing thyme and dispersing oregano can cascade over the sides.
Set the container herb garden in a sunny place with the parsley in the 12 o’clock position at the northern-most point. Cilantro and chives will be on the east side, oregano and sage on the west and thyme on the south.
Water the herb garden two or more times per week and more frequently in warm, dry summer weather.
Before it stinks for the first time in autumn, bring the potted rosemary to the house so that you can keep it in a south-facing window over the winter. Don’t over water it but do not let it dry out either.
But for the cilantro, the remaining herbs in the container garden will keep growing outdoors even after a few light frosts. (Cilantro is a tender annual which has a tendency to go to seed. It’s likely that it’ll be finished for the season long before the first fall frost.)
You can store the larger container garden garden in an unheated garage, closet or basement, depending on the severity of your winters. Give it a little water during the winter months if the soil appears dry. There’s no guarantee that each of the herbs will endure winter, but some might.
In spring, place it back in sunlight when temperatures stay in the forties during the day, even if it gets chilly at night. Water well. If they lived, they’ll begin growing in just a few weeks.
And if they didn’t, begin a new container herb garden. You already have the container and the rosemary from last year. And because herbs are rarely bothered by pests, it is OK to re-use the dirt.
Copyright Sharon Sweeny, 2009.
Sharon Sweeny is a creative copywriter, specializing in gardening and self-sufficient do-it-yourself lifestyles. She divides her spare time among her garden in Minneapolis, alternately juggling half a dozen creative endeavors and blogging on gardening while pondering the specific place of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota.