Container herb gardening and what to grow
Container herb gardening is almost becoming a necessity in these times. More and more home cooks are discovering the fresh taste of fresh herbs and the price of fresh herbs is on the rise. I have seen many common herbs for sale in very small 3-4 ounce packages for as much as $5 locally! With prices this outrageous, growing your own herbs can save you lots of money if you use fresh herbs on a somewhat regular basis.
Container herb gardening is actually quite simple. A basic container herb garden might consist of only a few plants in a sunny windowsill. The cost to start such a small garden would be very negligible, just a few small pots, a trowel, some potting mix, and a few packets of seeds. If you set your garden up in a sunny window, you won’t even have to invest in grow lights!
Here is my list of the top herbs for growing in containers, as well as some growing instructions for each type:
Basil – Basil is one of the most common fresh herbs. It is used extensively in Italian cooking, and its size makes it ideal for container herb gardening. It grows very well in a sunny windowsill. You need a container about 3-4 inches deep. It will grow to about 10 inches in size. Use very rich soil or compost. You will typically see your first harvest in about three weeks. Make sure to remove any flower stems as soon as you see them, and pinch off the tops of the leafy stems often to encourage bushy growth. Water regularly.
Cilantro – Also known as coriander, cilantro is a fresh, earthy-tasting herb that is commonly used in latin, mediterranean, and asian cooking. It is a common ingredient in salsas. It loves sunny windowsills. You should plant cilantro in 3-4 inch deep pots in well-drained loam or compost. You can begin harvesting in 4-8 weeks. Sow the seeds about 1/2 inch apart throughout the year. Mature plants should be about 6 inches apart. Make sure to snip off stems regularly to discourage flowering and encourage thick growth. Water regularly, but keep well-drained.
Parsley – Parsley is very well-suited for container herb gardening. Curly-leaf parsley is a bit better suited to container herb gardening, but you can successfully grow any variety. You should plant parsley in pots that are 8 inches deep in rich loam or compost. Plants will reach about 10 inches in size. You will get your first harvest in 12-16 weeks. Parsley should be planted about 1/2 inch apart. Be sure to pick regularly to encourage thick growth, and thin them until they are about 6 inches apart.
Sage – Sage is a richly aromatic, very earthy herb. It is nicely suited for container herb gardening, despite its large size. Because it is rather large, it cannot be grown in a windowsill, but it can be grown on a table beside a sunny window. It is typically used in poultry and pork dishes, and is a key ingredient in “poultry seasoning.”
Sage should be sown in large containers that are at least 8 inches deep in well-drained loam or compost. It is preferable to purchase seedlings from a nursery instead of trying to grow sage from seed. Always prune off flower buds, and trim regularly to keep the plant’s compact size. Sage bushes will usually last for 5 years or more before you need to plant new ones.