Learn how to grow in containers and what to watch for when planting herbs in small spaces. Those with little space will be inspired by knowing YES YOU CAN grow a garden almost anywhere!
Do you live in a small apartment with a balcony, patio or even no outside space at all? If you think you can’t have an herb garden, think again. Yes, even with limited space you can have a glorious herb garden of your own. I grew up gardening my entire life. So, when I moved out, on my own, I was distressed. I lived in an apartment, upstairs no less. How could I possibly have my own little garden? To say the least, I had to rearrange my whole way of thinking on what gardening was. There were other women in my complex that had their hanging baskets, window boxes, and little potted plants lined up in their kitchen windows. I chose pots of every conceivable size and shape. If it was out of the ordinary, I would use it.
I didn’t turn anything down. I even used some old wooden soft drink crates. In the beginning, some of my neighbors laughed, some even complained, but when all my plants were in their height of beauty, they were all in awe. You can do this too. Most herbs are perfectly willing to grow in pots. Just be sure to have drainage holes, and in all your containers, except hanging baskets, put a layer of gravel, perlite or broken pottery in the bottom to promote drainage and prevent water logging. Containers come in all sizes and shapes; and in a wide range of materials. You are only limited by your own imagination. Plastic pots are quite reasonably priced, easy to clean and store, and are very lightweight. Unglazed clay pots, which are my favorites, will allow excess water to evaporate through the clay. But, if you are one of those people that tend to forget to water your plants, you might not want to use unglazed pots. You can check the moisture of clay pots by sharply rapping your knuckles on the pot: a dull thud means the soil is too wet, and a hollow ring means the soil is too dry.
Always soak your new clay pots in water for 24 hours before using them. This will allow the pots to already have sufficient water in the pot itself and it will not zap all the water from your plant immediately. If you are using a large container, put it in position before filling it with soil and planting. Once it is filled, it will most likely be too heavy to move.
You will need to use herbs that enjoy the same growing conditions, such as parsley and chives, which love a sunny to partial shade position and rich, moist soil. Another combination could be a container for your sun-loving plants such as sweet basil, lemon basil, and sweet marjoram. If your container is tall, such as with a strawberry pot, insert long open-ended tubes (straws) into the soils to help the water reach the lower portions of the container. Hanging baskets are an ideal method when you are short on space. They also add height to a patio or balcony. Using any sort of confined container demands careful attention. If they are too cramped or watered irregularly, they will drop their lower leaves and have a sad appearance. Select your plants according to the shape of your container. Use plants whose leaves grow in layers or horizontal mounds, or ones that have arching or trailing branches. Avoid upright plants for your hanging baskets unless you are going to surround them with other plants that soften the outline. I love to hang baskets of lemon-scented, caraway-scented, and pine-scented creeping thymes, catmint, ivies, lady’s mantle, prostrate rosemary, prostrate sage, and even prostrate winter savory in a sunny spot close to my kitchen door. Because my pennyroyal, variegated mints and periwinkle prefer a more shaded area, I hang those baskets under a tree.
With the use of containers comes the necessity of repotting. You may not have this to do this year if this is your first year for herb growing, but it will happen next year. You know it is time to repot your plants when the roots are protruding through the bottom of the pot. It is definitely time for a larger pot. After an incident a few years ago, I always schedule my repotting for early spring, and I repot all of my plants so they will all have fresh clean soil. Several years ago, I had an abundance of time on my hands around Christmas with nothing to do. So I repotted all of my plants. Yes, I did it at Christmas time. A huge mistake, I lost nearly all of my wonderful herbs. You should never transfer your plants when they are in a dormant stage (winter time). When they are dormant, they don’t grow roots to anchor the plant to the new soil, and many will die. I should have known, but I learned that lesson the hard way! Herbal Blessings!