If you want to grow your own, your first option should be to learn how to start growing herbs in pots.
Herbs are the easiest first crop for you to learn. Plus they are a great addition to both your garden and your kitchen.
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How to Successfully Grow Herbs in Pots
Herbs usually have roots that expand and grow deep. Therefore, growing herbs usually requires larger containers for the roots to spread out. Generally, a pot that is used to grow a single herb variety should have a diameter of 10 to 12 inches. If you’re using a single pot to grow more than one herb, you’ll need to make sure that it is a large pot.
When thinking about planting herbs in pots, the pot must be durable. They look good if made of wood but clay and plastic will do fine too. Ensure that the base of the pot has drainage holes for excess water to drain out.
Growing Herbs in Pots Soil
The potting soil that is used to grow herbs will need to be slightly alkaline. It would be best to buy your potting mix from a nursery. This will be easier and you will not need to figure out the proportion of soil, sand and manure. If you do want to make the soil yourself, just mix 3 parts of soil with 1 part of manure and sand.
When you’re planting the herbs, make sure that the roots are covered completely with potting soil. If you’re growing two herbs in one container leave sufficient space between the two plants. This will allow for better growth. Pack the soil tightly.
How to Start a Herb Garden in Pots
Place your plant in a location where it gets about six hours of sunlight, especially the morning sun. During hot weather, you may wish to move the plant to partial shade or move them indoors. Water the plants regularly and sensibly.
Remember that the attraction of growing herbs in pots is to pick and eat them. Make it easy to get to, even if it’s raining. Near the house is a good option if sunlight allows.
Which Herbs Grow Well in Pots
The main thing to remember if growing herbs to eat, grow herbs that you like! These are the herbs that I plant, and those I don’t. This is based on my personal preference, and yours will probably be different.
If I could only grow one herb it would be coriander. I cook with it, a lot! And love to eat it in a salad. If left, it can also produce coriander seeds which again are great to cook with.
Coriander likes well-drained soil. Don’t let it dry out or become too hot as it will bolt (run to seed). It has a long root so the easiest thing is to sow it in the pot where you want it to grow.
Sow the seeds thinly in multi-purpose compost and cover lightly with soil. Water carefully. Germination normally takes between 7 – 21 days. Sow every 3 weeks for a constant supply.
Pick leaves when young. They can be frozen.
My firm second choice. Again, I cook with it and eat it in salads. If you are also growing tomatoes, basil grows really well with them. I always add some basil seeds to my tomato pots too.
Remember that Basil is a Mediterranean plant, so you are trying to mimic its natural conditions. Basil does not like the cold, and frost will kill it. Basil likes moist, but well-drained soil. It needs around 6 – 8 hours of sun a day.
You can start basil off inside much earlier, from mid-February onwards. I wouldn’t sow any more after mid-August as it will die off around mid-September due to the cold.
Sow the seeds thinly in multi-purpose compost and cover very lightly with soil. Water carefully. Once they have developed their first set of leaves (not the round seed leaves) you can transplant it to another pot if required.
Once the plant is growing, pinch the tips of the bush as this will make it bushy. Remove any flowers.
Pick leaves when young. They can be frozen or made into pesto.
Rosemary and Thyme
I class these together as they both like the same severe Mediterranean conditions. If you go to the mountains in Spain, Rosemary and Thyme grow wild just about everywhere. This gives you some idea about the sorts of conditions it likes.
Grow rosemary in well-drained soil in full sun and don’t let it get too wet. Make sure the pot that you plant it in has good drainage.
Although you can grow rosemary from seed, it is difficult and takes months to become productive. It is far easier to buy your first plant. This plant should survive for years unless it gets too wet and cold. You can take cuttings to generate more rosemary plants.
I tend to grow rosemary as much for a plant as for a herb. It looks lovely and smells amazing when you brush past it. Even if you don’t like it as a herb, grow it! Plus bees love rosemary so that’s a great reason for planting it.
Thyme by contrast is easy to grow from seed. Scatter a few seeds lightly over the compost surface. Cover with a light layer of compost and water carefully. Once they have developed their first set of leaves (not the round seed leaves) you can transplant it to another pot if required.
Like the rosemary, thyme hates too much water. But in the hot summer don’t let either of them dry out too much. Both will survive over winter in a sheltered position. It is the wet that will kill them, not the cold. Again, think of the mountains in Spain where it gets very cold but stays fairly dry.
I grow oregano because I like to cook with it and bees love it.
It’s a Mediterranean plant so again likes free-draining compost in a sunny, sheltered spot. Don’t allow it to become waterlogged in winter.
Harvest the leaves when required. Cut it back completely every so often to encourage new leaves. It will survive over winter in a sheltered position and repot every couple of years in fresh compost.
These are my favourite herbs that I like to grow so hopefully this will help you decide how to start growing herbs in pots. Your choices may be different. Are there any herbs that you can’t live without?