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DIY Project: Create an Herb Garden in a Raised Bed

Updated on September 8, 2013

Home herb gardens are a delicious way to get your feet wet when it comes to home gardening. Herbs are easy to grow, attractive enough for patio flower beds and containers and can be used every day for the entire growing season. This hub will show you how to make a container herb garden perfect for a sunny balcony, deck or patio.

You will need:

  • Large container (I used a 20" wide mock wiskey barrel)
  • Pots: I used 5- 6" wide plastic pots and 4- 3.5" wide plastic pots
  • 40# bag of topsoil
  • 20# bag of good, high quality potting soil
  • herbs: I u.sed basil, cilantro, oregano, parsley, thyme, rosemary, mint, chives, and dill

Time:

  • 1 afternoon

Cost:

  • $50.00-$60.00

20" Fiberglass whiskey barrel--Lowes, $19.00
20" Fiberglass whiskey barrel--Lowes, $19.00
Newly planted herb garden with herbs in various growing stages: seedlings (cilantro, dill, basil), transplants (chives, mint and parsley), and young, but harvestable (oregano, thyme and rosemary)
Newly planted herb garden with herbs in various growing stages: seedlings (cilantro, dill, basil), transplants (chives, mint and parsley), and young, but harvestable (oregano, thyme and rosemary)

Step 1: Plant Herbs

Using the high quality potting soil, plant herbs in the 6" and 3.5" pots.

I planted basil, rosemary, oregano, mint, and thyme in the larger pots, and chives, dill, parsely, and cilantro in the 3.5" pots. Water pots well and set aside.

Step 2: Prepare the Large Container

  1. Drill 3-4 small holes in the bottom of the large planter (if needed) and set the planter in its intended home. It will be very difficult to move after it is filled with dirt.
  2. Place rocks or wood chips in the bottom if desired to fill the lower third of the planter. This helps save on dirt and helps to improve drainage.

  3. Fill planter with dirt leaving enough head space at the top so that when the 6" planters are set in the planter, their rims are even with the rim of the planter.

Now you are ready to start placing the herb pots.

Placing the Herb Pots

Herb placement will very depending on the type of herbs you prefer. Rosemary is a good choice for the middle pot, as it will grow into a small shrub, with the other four 6" pots arranged evenly around that. The outer pots should be tilted slightly outwards, encouraging the herbs to fall over the sides of the large planter as they grow.

Once you are satisfied with the 6"pot placement, add more topsoil, leaving enough headspace at the top of the large planter so that the rims of the 3.5" pots are even with the rims of the other pots.

Arrange the smaller pots between the larger pots. Again, tilit the smaller pots outwards so that the herbs fall over the edge of the planter.

Fill the planter the rest of the way with top soil and water well. After a few days, check the soil height and add more if needed to keep the plastic pots hidden.


Caring for Your Herb Garden

Keep your herb garden well-watered: about an inch a week throughout the growing season. You can start sniping your herbs right away, but never take for than a third of their leaves off at a time. Frequent pruning will give you a bushier, more compact plant, and snipping off any flowering stems BEFORE they have a chance to flower is crucial to aromatic herb leaves.


Perennial Herbs

Perennial herbs will survive year-round in the container garden provided they are hardy in your temperature zone and the planter has good drainage and holds at least 5 gallons of soil. Make sure to use plastic pots, as ceramic or clay pots may freeze and crack.

The rosemary and chive pots could be brought inside to over-winter in the house for use all winter, or you could treat the herbs as annuals and grow new each year. Alternatively, you could plant perennials in the garden toward the end of the year to over-winter there, and re-pot them the following year.

I keep perennials such as parsley, dill, chives, and mint in a small garden away from the house. Each spring, I re-pot most the herbs to replant in my container garden or give away to family and friends.

Q and A

Why can't i just plant my herb garden within the family garden?

Placing your herb garden as close to your kitchen or back door as possible will ensure that you actually use your herb garden! If you are going to be using herbs in most meals, you do not want to have to trek all the way out to the garden three times a day or in the rain to snip them. On the patio or just off the patio is best unless you have kiddos you can send out in the rain to do your snipping for you.

Wouldn't it be easier to just plant all my herbs in the ground?

You could do that; however, if you have dogs, a raised bed or container is a must to keep those precious herbs from getting trampled or urinated on. Also, many perennial herbs like dill, mint, and parsley will grow like weed, taking over your garden bed and looking very unruly. Many gardeners recommend sinking pots in the ground to keep those little growers right where you want them. Finally, container gardening allows you to bring herbs indoors to extend their growing season.

Why do I need to plant herbs in little pots if I am just going to put them in one large container? Why not just plant the herbs in the large pot?

Again, you could do that, but the same problem with perennials taking over not only exists, but is amplified due to the smaller space. Also, for gardening newbies, herbs in pots are easily re-arrangeable if you find that you don't like your placement. Simply pull out the pots and some of the soil and reposition. Finally, the smaller pot are removable so you can bring herbs indoors for the winter.

Where to Buy Quality Herb Seeds

Of course, you can buy seeds anywhere, but they can get pricey, often up to $2.00 a seed packet. I like to buy seeds from direct order online companies. They typically sell several types of herbs together and I can often get organic herb seeds for under $1.00 per herb packet. I have found that the seeds I get from these online companies germinate better than the packets I buy at the store.

Comments

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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      5 years ago from the short journey

      I'm planning to create more herb gardens in containers next year because they are indeed very convenient.

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 

      5 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      Voted up and useful. As an herb gardener and writer, I always enjoy reading other writers.

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