How To Grow Herbs
Herb Garden the Easy Way
I love gardening and I also love cooking, and I use a lot of herbs in my recipes. I prefer to use fresh herbs when I can, because they really taste so much better than dried or frozen ones. Unfortunately, fresh herbs do not keep very well in the refridgerator and I have very often found myself in the frustrating position of being in the middle of cooking something and realizing I am out of parsley or dill or marjoram or whatever other herb the recipe calls for.
For years I was contemplating the idea of growing a herb garden, but could never find the right spot for it. You see, my garden is mainly decorative, consisting mostly of flowers and flowering bushes and some trees. I do not have a vegetable or food growing garden and I thought that a herb garden would look slightly out of place.
So, what options did I have for growing fresh herbs at home?
Pictures of my container herb garden-taken by me
Growing Herbs in Containers
As I was looking for possibilities to grow my own herbs without unduly disrupting the look of my garden, I came across the option of growing herbs in containers. The idea was to plant herbs in flower pots and then bury these in the ground, so as to keep growth tidy and avoid the risk of some invading herbs like mint or spearmint overunning their borders and literally taking over your garden. This would mean however that whenever I felt like changing the layout or replanting some of the pots, I would have to dig them all up again. The other option was to simply plant herbs in pots and place them on a window sill or patio.
While deliberating on these options, I decided to visit my local garden center and have a look at the various types of herbs they had on sale and see how much space and/or how many containers I would need in order to plant a respectable collection of herbs. And this is where I found the perfect solution! A tiered herb planter or strawberry planter as they are some times called! A large terra cotta planter with many pocket-like openings, where you may plant a collection of herbs, as well as strawberries, baby tomatoes or flowers for a splash of color. It was exactly what I was looking for, especially as I could place it just outside my kitchen door and pop out while cooking for a sprig of freshly cut herbs. It is beautiful to look at and the vertical stacking arrangement is a great space saver.
My Favorite Strawberry/Herb Planter - The easiest way to grow a herb garden
This is the closest to the one I own that I could find on Amazon. It has a 4,5 star average on almost 100 consumer reviews. It has three stacking layers, each of which can accommodate three plants. If you want to plant more, you may buy a second unit and add more layers. It is made of durable U.V protected terra cotta look plastic and collapses for easy storage, contrary to mine which is a one-piece planter. It also includes a base for the water to drain in and is also available in chocolate color.
How to plant your Strawberry/Herb Planter and how to care for your herbs
Start by filling your planter with potting soil. Plant your largest plant in the central top opening and use the side openings and lower tiers for smaller, annual or trailing types of herbs. I have planted a strawberry plant in the central opening of mine and have used all the other pockets for different types of herbs. Some good choices which are used in many recipes and also look nice and smell heavenly are the following:
Herbs are easy to grow and care for in general. Although there are certain exceptions, most herbs are relatively undemanding. They do best in full sun and normal potting soil. They require little water and well draining containers. They rarely need fertilizer - actually too much fertilizing may be bad for them. They do require pruning, to grow neatly and to prevent them from growing tall and lanky, but the reason you want a herb garden in the first place, is presumably in order to harvest it. Harvesting your herbs regularly is just the pruning they need!
Herbs, Seeds and More
Here are is a good collection of herb seeds, including varieties of most commonly used culinary herbs, medicinal herbs and tea herbs. A must have addition is the book I highly recommend. Every time I go to the garden centre to buy herbs, I am sure I will be able to recognize them and remember their names and the best uses for each one of them...but after a few months I cannot tell them apart, with the exception of the really common ones. This book is wonderful. Not only does it have full descriptions and pictures of a huge variety of herbs to help you choose, it also gives detailled instructions on growing, harvesting and storing different types of herbs and, it includes the most wonderful recipes with herbs, like herbal teas, pesto sauce, rosemary oil, garlic and olive toppings and so much more!
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