I was discussing my garden plans with a friend recently when he confessed that he too really wants to grow something edible. The caveat: he lives in a flat downtown (read: no yard) and his balcony space is super limited. My advice to him was to start with a few potted herbs.
Herbs are easy to please, making them a great choice for first-time gardeners looking to get their hands dirty. They also grow well in pots, so work for those with limited space.
Did I mention that they also smell delicious on your patio, enhance any dish, and are much cheaper to grow yourself than to buy in the store or farmer’s market? Bonus!
Start with these simple steps and you’ll have an abundance of green, fragrant leaves to snip in no time.
- Determine your space. Herbs do best outdoors in a sun-loving location (6+ hours per day), but a sunny kitchen window will do them well too. Where you plan to put your herbs will determine what kind and how many pots you pick out. Here in Coloardo, it gets so hot during the summer, that I opt to shade my herbs from the harsh afternoon sun.
- Pick your pot. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. You can grow a few different herbs in a larger pot, or go with seperate herbs in smaller pots (great for the window sill approach). Clay pots will be the least expensive while ceramic will be costlier. I actually grow my mint in a strawberry container because it goes wild, growsing up through the holes all around. Be sure your pots have a hole at the bottom for drainage. Hint: Yard sales are a fantastic place to pick up pots and planters.
- Choose your herbs. Go with those you like to cook with or are interested in beginning to use. Chives, dill, oregano, basil, mint, parsley and cilantro are my favs. If you are going to plant more than one in a pot, note that basil doesn’t like to be crowded; it will do best on its own.
- Add dirt and water. When it comes to going organic, potting soil is no exception. You will, after all, be injesting these herbs! Refrain from dumping Miracle-Grow or other chemical fertilizers on them as well. If you have a compost pile, they will love the black gold! Once you’ve got the right nutrients, i.e. dirt, water frequently. Pots tend to dry out quickly, especially clay ones. I’ve killed many an herb via dehydration; learn from my mistake.
Sit back, enjoy the natural fragrance of your new potted plants, and when they grow big enough, give them a snip and incorporate into your next meal!
What kinds of herbs to you grow?