Herb Garden in a Container
If you like the idea of being able to grow your own herbs but only have a small garden space or no garden at all, then find a spot where you can display a couple of medium pot containers or one large one. You will be able to have the benefit of picking and using your own home grown herbs. If growing herbs for the first time you may prefer to have your herbs contained. This will supply vibrant colours and wonderful aromas. There are so many containers to choose from, you could have a clay pot in a hot Mediterranean colour. First of all get some compost, like a peat based compost but remember to add some gravel or bits of broken crockerly at the bottom to stop it water logging. Make sure you have put drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. A layer of charcoal granules near the bottom of the soil will help the soil absorb any waste products. Choose one method of growing from below.
Think about which herbs you want to grow and that are going to give you colour, aroma and be easily maintained. Whenever you plant in container pots the herbs can last one or two seasons although around spring you should re-plant. I would use about five herbs for a medium pot and maybe eight herbs for a larger pot. You could pick herbs like pot marigold that has a lovely bright orange flower and looks like a little sunshine. Peppermint has a good aroma and you can pick the leaves to make a refreshing infusion taken after meals, a very effective digestive remedy. Chamomile is a widely used herb that produces pungent flowers for your own home made tea, it is used mostly for its sedative and digestive qualities. Lavender has a wonderful aroma and colour, the flowers can be used as an infusion to help soothe headaches or as a night time tea. Lemon Balm has a lovely aroma, vibrant colour and it is very easy to grow. So much so it can take over in a confined space, seek out a variegated lemon balm it will be easier to contain. Heartsease is also grown quite easily and adds striking colour, the aerial parts can be made into an infusion for a cough as it is a good expectorant. Ground Ivy (not Ivy) makes a great trailing plant that could go around the sides of your container. Rosemary has a wonderful aroma that can be used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. These are just a small selection of herbs.
If you were already growing your herbs indoors or have bought them from a good plant nursery and want to re-plant them in your outdoor container then do this in the spring. Tip your plant pot upside down and gently remove the plant, keep it with its own soil. In your container remove some soil so you have space to place the herb in. Very gently loosen the herb roots and place into its new home. Fill the hole with soil, firm the soil and give it a good watering. When your container is full, remember to have plant sticks with the name and date of planting. You may have to use fertilizer (it is possible to get organic ones, or even to make your own) within the first six weeks of planting the herbs.
If you are taking a cutting, buy some small pots and hormone rooting powder. Fill your pots with compost and pick a healthy shoot from the plant you want to grow. To take a cutting make a clean cut just below a leaf node. Take away any lower leaves and place some of the powder on the tip of this. Gently place your cuttings into one third of their depth in the potting compost, cover it with a plastic bag (but don’t allow the plastic to rest on the leaves). Check it every three days and open up the bag to let new air circulate. Watch for the signs of growth, and when you spot this, place the pots where they will get some sun, be protected and sheltered as well. When you start to see the roots coming through the base of your pot then it is time to transfer the herbs on to your large pot container.
Growing Herbs From Seed
If you want to grow your herbs indoors from seed then you will need to buy a shallow seed tray and some loamless seed growing mixture. Sprinkle the seeds onto compost, sow the seeds thinly. Very gently sprinkle some compost on top of this to cover the seeds and keep the seeds in place. Finely water the compost and take a note of what has been sown, date, etc. Cover the tray with the lid that is usually provided. Place the tray in an airing cupboard if you have one or some in a warm place so they can germinate. You really need to check this daily as you are waiting for the sprouting of the seeds to take place. As soon as this happens move your tray out of the airing cupboard. For the first couple of days take the lid off on side of the tray but don’t expose the seeds to direct sunshine, then take the whole lid off after this. When the first leaves come out it is time to pot your seedling to a small pot to allow the root system to form. Make small holes in your compost, carefully handle the seedlings and put in to the holes. Pat down the surrounding soil and water it. Make sure the pots get light but try to avoid direct sun. As they grow and are at the stage to go in to your large pot container, you first have to get them used to the outdoors for about a week, but bring them in at night time. Give your large pot container a good watering and very gently take your herbs out of the small pots, push a stick in the soil to make a hole for the root. Do this in spring or early summer.
This is just the start of a process to enable you to grow herbs that will hopefully give you pleasure. You may choose to use your herbs in a medicinal, cosmetic or culinary way. Whatever you choose, it makes it more special due to the fact you have grown your own herbs. Enjoy!