One-Pot Herb Garden – Anywhere!

By: Maureen Gilmer

herb boxes

Repurposed wood crates become one pot herb gardens featuring thyme, rosemary, cilantro, chives and more

Fresh-from-the-container culinary herbs turn a New York loft, a Chicago studio, or a Los Angeles condo into flavor central.  Nothing is quite like fresh mint in your mojito, just-picked basil on a mozzarella sandwich, or cilantro in your salsa.  No store-bought herb carries this intense flavor, because once cut, the essential oils immediately begin to lose pungency.  Cut and eat immediately, and you’ll find intense herbal resonance in every dish you make.

In a single good sized pot, or any other repurposed vintage container, it’s possible to plant a garden of culinary herbs today and start tasting in just a matter of weeks.

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‘Pesto Perpetuo’ basil is a great container option.

Choosing the Right Herbs

Blending the right herbs that share similar preferences makes care and watering a snap.  Most herbs need direct sun, so choose a bright planting spot, such as a fire escape, a window box, a terrace, or balcony. Just beware of direct exposure to the heat of intense afternoon sun, and be sure to water heavily on a daily basis at the height of summer.

In cities like Chicago, winds whip through downtown creating challenges for rooftop gardens and other plants exposed to such conditions.  As we approach summer, the  wind combines with hot sun, causing herb garden to struggle for moisture.  It dries herb’s tender, oil-rich leaves if moisture is inadequate.

Choosing Potting Soil

Thanks to the amazing ability of Black Gold Moisture Supreme Container Mix, contained herbs will stand up to the rigors of urban life without fail.  This amazing moisture-holding potting soil ensures that when your pot heats up, your plants don’t suffer wind damage due to the strengthening effects of RESiLIENCE®.  Despite its absorptive qualities, this potting soil also provides adequate drainage to ensure there’s plenty of oxygen in the root zone.

Parsley - Pam- Beck

Fresh parsley and thyme are easily contained in pots, window boxes, or small beds.

Annual Herbs

An annual herb garden typically features two popular summer plants: cilantro and basil.  Both are annuals grown fresh from seed each year and mature into large plants.  These blend perfectly with chives for a triad of often used and delicious foliage.  If perennially nipped and cut, they remain small for a time, but with rising heat and extended days, they will stretch out to flower and their flavor will become stronger and less palatable.

Perennial Herbs

The second group are the smaller, long-lived perennial herbs sized for a grand herb pot.  In-ground gardeners treat these as landscape plants, enjoying new growth and harvest each year without replanting, though overwintered plants may lose verve and require some replacement in the future. Key to success are growing the right herbs that won’t become too large over the season.  Start with those you use most often and organize them in pots by form with spreaders around the edges and upright herbs toward the center.

Thyme is one of the best cascading herbs that will spill over the edge of the pot, buying room for more upright plants in the center.  Oregano is spreading too, but since this herb is so often used in the kitchen, it manages to retain a modest size from frequent pinching.  Sage is very slow growing and loves the sun, so place this fuzzy-leaved fellow on the hot side of the box.  The same is true for creeping groundcover rosemary that spills off the face of the box.  Plant purple fennel in the center for an incredible bronze-colored haze that yields lots of anise-flavored cuttings for cooking and baking.

Everyone can dive into herb gardening no matter where they live by selecting a large, well-drained container, and using high-quality potting soil to reduce watering demands.  Once planted, begin dreaming of all sorts of herbal dishes, then snip your way to fresh and easy all summer long.

 

About Maureen Gilmer


Maureen Gilmer has been a noted figure in horticultural journalism for over 30 years. She is author of 18 gardening books and writer of Yardsmart, a national column syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service. She is also garden columnist for the Desert Sun newspaper in the international resort town of Palm Springs. Maureen is a public speaker and former host of Weekend Gardening on the DIY Channel. She lives in Morongo Valley with her husband Jim and two rescue pit bulls. When not writing or photographing she is usually out riding her quarter horse.

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