Growing Herbs in Pots and Containers
Why Growing Herbs in Pots Has its Advantages
Growing herbs in pots will allow your herb garden to take on a flexibility that will result in a better herb crop.
TYPES OF CONTAINERS: Herbs are as a general rule are very hardy plants. Growing herbs in pots makes a lot of sense. Herbs lend themselves to container gardening, if that is your desire. You can plant them in window boxes, hanging baskets or clay pots of any size. I don’t use plastic pots for my containers because they don’t breathe like the traditional clay pots. The distinct advantage to using containers is that they can be grown inside and that extends the growing season depending on where you live. I start a batch of container herbs in late summer with the intention of moving those pots inside as the weather starts to cool down. When the snow is on the ground and you have fresh herbs in the kitchen it is a treat that any chef would enjoy. Whether you are growing herbs indoors or outdoors your herb plants will have the same growing requirements.
IDEAL CONDITIONS:Three main ingredients control the ultimate health of herb plants. If you want a vibrant, hearty and productive plant you are going to need ample sunlight, nutritious soil and adequate water. These three elements are the key to successful herbs. If you pay attention to these factors there is no reason you can’t raise a successful batch of fresh herbs.
To obtain the proper amount of sunlight when growing herbs in pots indoors, try to find a south or west facing window that is not shaded by a tree or shrub. If you can’t find a location like this, you can supplement the amount of light with a “grow lamp” which will supply your herb plants with sufficient light to thrive. You can find them at most large garden centers or my usual choice, the Internet. I obtained a hanging unit that fits in my kitchen windowsill from www.amazon.com and it was quite reasonable. I have it on a timer to come on in the late afternoon, during the winter months, and turn off after about 7 hours of additional sunlight. My herbs seem to thrive under these conditions. Growing herbs in pots has a very positive effect on your winter recipes.
SOIL CONDITIONS: If you plan on growing herbs in pots the soil that you plant your herbs in is another important element. Start by placing about a one inch layer of gravel at the bottom of our pots. Make sure the pots have a drainage hole or your herbs could develop” root rot”. I use a mixture of ½ potting soil and I mix it with ¼ garden soil and ¼ sandy loom. I add about one teaspoon of lime to a 6 inch pot to insure a sweet, no acid environment for the herbs. This blend will provide a good well drained soil that is not too “rich” for most herb plants.
HYDRATION METHODS: Watering is different for container grown herbs. Herbs raised outside in a garden will have a well-established root system that will pull water from the surrounding soil. Growing herbs in pots is quite different. Container grown herbs need more frequent watering. Because growing herbs in pots is a different environment you have to compensate for the dryer air indoors. I use a small mister on my herbs several times a week because the air in the home is much dryer than outside. If you plan on growing herbs in pots water them frequently, but be sure not to over-water as this can create a situation where the roots will become soggy and this can lead to eventual problems.
ANNUALS VS. PERENNIALS: Some herbs are annuals and some are perennials in nature. it does not matter which type of her you decide to grow. Growing herbs in pots is just fine for either type. Rosemary is actually a shrub in nature and will winter over outside very well. However in the northern climates they will not thrive in the bitter cold. I repot my rosemary and bring it inside. Growing rosemary herbs in pots gives you access to fresh herbs all winter long. Tarragon, oregano, mint and chives will die off when left outside and actually come back in the spring much stronger than the last growing season. Watch out for mint though, it is so hardy it will virtually take over your garden if you don’t control its growth. I usually plant mint in hanging baskets to control this hardy herb.
ADVANTAGES OF GROWING HERBS IN POTS:
Growing herbs in pots allows you the freedom of mobility. You can move them throughout your home as needed. If you start the herbs outside be sure to bring them in prior to the first frost and they should establish themselves to the new indoor environment. Growing herbs in pots outside has its advantages also. Don’t be shy about clipping you herbs for use in your recipes. The more you clip them the hardier they usually become. I have had my basil plants grow to about 18 inches in height during the winter even though I clip a few leaves each day for my salads and main dishes. I use them in a variety of recipes, make pesto which I freeze for later use and give away some to my friends and acquaintances.
ALL THE REASONS TO BEGIN GROWING HERBS IN POTS: Growing herbs in pots will extend your growing season. Growing herbs in pots will provide a fresh supply of herbs all year long. Growing herbs in pots will add a pleasant fragrance to you kitchen in the winter. Growing herbs in pots gives you flexibility in your gardening efforts. Growing herbs in pots give you a jump-start on the growing season in the spring. Growing herbs in pots will add to your decor. In conclusion Growing herbs in pots has so may advantages that it does not make sense to start right now growing herbs in pots regardless of the growing season.