Monday, November 2, 2009

8 easy steps to Growing Herbs in Pots

Growing your own herbs (and vegetables) is an ever increasing interest across the world, whether for heatlh reasons, ecological reasons, or other. Let's face it, it's fun, resourceful and certainly therapeutic.....

I have previously posted an in depth article on growing your own herbs and vegetables (see links below) as well as other related articles on ways to do this effectively within the space you have. So do take a look at these posts again to refresh your mind on the various ways this simple, yet fun, task can be handled.

Effectively, you do not really need much space, especially to grow herbs (and even some of the smaller veggies such as lettuce, spinach and even lemons, for example). All you need is good soil, you need to water regularly, feed ocassionally and voila ... you can pick, and pick and pick, as you need, to concoct your own healthy salads, and other delicious meals, which somehow just taste that much better when grown in your own space and picked, with your own hands!!!

So onto growing herbs in pots.... this is an ideal solution for those with limited garden space, or like me, where the vegetable patch is just too far from the kitchen. So as we "speak" I am busy setting up a number of pots in a courtyard near our kitchen so that I can quickly pop out the door, and pick what I need, as I need it. OK, what is required for this simple task?

  1. Firstly, and this is very important, find a suitable spot - you must have good light and at least 4-6 hours of "direct" sunlight, preferably not late afternoon (west) sun, which is just too harsh - if you have no option, then ensure that your herbs are watered daily, and try to position the pots in a way that they are semi sheltered by surrounding shrubs and trees to limit the direct afternoon sun.
  2. Pots - a few large/ wide pots - what is important is the diameter of the pot rather than the height. If you cannot find wide (shorter) pots, then opt for smaller ones but then you will need more of them (it really depends on how many herbs and to what level you want to take this to). TIP: If you are a novice start with a few basic (and easy to grow) herbs - parsley, mint, oregano, basil, rocket, thyme, for example.
  3. Soil - good quality potting soil and compost (mix the two - I prefer more compost than potting soil).
  4. Herbs - the herbs you wish to plant - here, just remember that if the pot is wide you can plant more than one, or one type. Thyme for example creeps, so is perfect as a "groundcover" (which keeps the soil moist). Marjoram and some types of oregano are also good, another option is strawberries. Just do a bit of reserach first, see what you like and what is available. TIP: I always recommend you start with the herbs you know, you enjoy and will use. You can always add on more as time goes by.
  5. Planting - plant the herbs - allowing a decent enough space for each to spread out and grow. For example, a larger bushier type in the centre (or back if placed against a wall, for example), such as basil, surrounded by parsley or thyme or marjoram or even chives....
  6. Fertilise - add a sprinkling of good quality fertiliser, preferably organic types.
  7. Water - water well. Regular watering is of course, the "secret". I always like to water any new seedlings lightly twice a day (if possible) morning and afternoon, for the first two weeks, therafter you revert to watering as needed. TIP: Always use the finger test i.e. push your forefinger into the soil, if evidently damp, don't water, if dry, water - use your discretion. Also bear in mind that pots in windy passageways and/ or in (west) afternoon sun, need MORE watering.
  8. Picking - after about 2-3 weeks your herbs will be flourishing abundantly and you can pick to your hearts content. TIP: that the more you pick the more they produce, and also avoid the herb flowering too early - worst cuplrits in my mind are basil, rocket and some parsleys amongst others. Once they flower (=seed) they stop producing good quality leaves, so as flowers appear I nip them off. Also nipping the top growth means your herbs will bush out (= more leaves which is good) and not gain height (= less leaves, not good).

Of course, have fun whilst doing this and don't forget the sunscreen!!

The pics have been taken on my "trips" around gardens in Johannesburg, and are some great examples of potted herb gardens .....

Let me know how you fare.

Gena A lemon tree in a pot (this has to be a larger pot) surrounded by annuals and creeping herbs.

Links to previous posts on this subject:

Original post on setting up a herb & vegetable garden - click here

Also look through TAGS and select "growing herbs and vegetables" or click here to take you to all articles in this category.

Picture Credits: Gena D Photography


Kellie Collis said...

I desperately would love a vegetable garden, shame we just don't have the space! x

Gena said...

Hi Kellie, thanks for visiting and the input! Not even a little spot in a courtyard or a balcony????

Blog Widget by LinkWithin