Herb Garden

Over the last week we got our herb container-garden going! In the past I have fussed with starting the plants from seed indoors in March, but frankly I’ve given that part up after discovered that it was so fussy to do, and the growing season in Canada is so short that those tiny seedlings would barely have time to get going with any herbs we could actually harvest and use, during the summertime. So instead, we now get our herb plants already well on their way … this year we got them in Kensington Market.

I potted them up last Monday, and some were hardy enough for a small harvest for our Friday spaghetti lunch! The thing I’ve found about herb home-growing though is that you never really get enough of anything to say, make pesto with. One large clump of cut basil sold in vegetable markets is more herb than my container plant can grow all summer. Rather, a little sampling garden such as ours is great for adding a sprinkle to salads, baked potatoes, soups, pastas, and pizzas. And I make a killer herb grilled-cheese sandwich, which I’ll show you sometime soon.

We planted basil, thyme, sage, tarragon, rosemary, mint, savory (first year trying this one and we’re finding it a little tricky), and two kinds each of oregano and parsley. Chives are an perennial that will come back every year, so we have that already in the garden, but I’m thinking a pot of those should be added too, because they grows the cutest little round puffy purple flowers later in the season! So I’m going to go back to the market for some chives. I’m also going to try to get some garlic and green onions going. We’ll see how that goes.

To plant herbs in pots : (1) Choose fairly large pots, because small ones dry out very quickly in the sun. It is important to use pots that have drainage holes. (2) Cover the drainage hole with a single layer of newspaper so the soil doesn’t come through when you’re planting the herbs. (3) Fill the pot 2/3 full with outdoor/garden soil that you buy in large bags at the garden centre or hardware store. (4) remove your herb plant from the small pot in came in and centre it on the soil. Press it down firmly. (5) Fill the rest of the pot with soil and press firmly again … you don’t want any air bubbles. (6) Water well, until the water seeps through your drainage hole. (7) Place potted herbs where they will get at least a few hours a day of direct sunlight, for best results. (8) Water well until water seeps through the drainage holes whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. This might be every day in the middle of the summer. (9) When you want to use herbs in your cooking or drinks, just clip off as much as you need and enjoy.

It is advisable that you don’t just put your pots straight onto a wooden deck, without using a saucer or trivet underneath them. I learned this the hard way when we began theproject this year, only to find that the pot-garden from last year had ruined a part of our deck, and Nick had to fix it with wooden polyfil, so the damage wouldn’t spread. My bad! So this year we’ve put the pots in saucers and plant stands. There are also these little stands that you can buy that will raise your pots up a bit too.

If you are using terracotta or ceramic pots and live in an area that freezes in the winter, you should empty those pots out in the fall and try to store them in a covered spot. They can stay outdoors, but they shouldn’t get wet. If you don’t do this the soil left in the pots over the winter will expand when it freezes and this can cause your pots to crack. But don’t waste your soil when you dump them … put it into a plastic bin and you can use it for the first step of your potting next year, up to the 2/3s point. Then you want to add fresh soil to finish your potting because there are some nutrients in it that will benefit the plants. That said, you DO NOT want to fertilize herbs as they grow, because this will cause them to not have as intense a flavour.

I hope you find these growing tips helpful and will try growing some of your own herbs.

Happy Monday to you. Hope you have a good day. It’s a holiday here so I’m heading out to the deck now to read.
xo loulou