In spring and summer, we enjoy the wealth of herbal diversity at our local produce market. Planting our own herbal gardens will not only provide us with fresh fodder for our summer meals but will also bless our home with aromatic scents.
In spring and summer, we enjoy the wealth of herbal diversity at our local produce market.
Planting our own herbal gardens will not only provide us with fresh fodder for our summer meals but will also bless our home with aromatic scents.
Planting herbs is relatively simple. The only limitation involves choosing which ones you prefer. Here are some tips.
Herbs generally require sunshine and heat, low to medium fertility, regular watering, and good drainage.
Annual herbs such as basil, cilantro, dill, and parsley, and perennial herbs such as chives, feverfew, and mint can be directly seeded to a sunny area of the garden after all danger of frost has passed.
You can also plant herbs in trays of potting mix on your windowsill in early spring and transplant to pots once established. Water daily and herbs will soon poke above the surface. Thin culinary herbs and use in the kitchen.
“Harden off” indoor herbs by setting them outside in a sheltered area on a warm day. Gradually increase the time outdoors until they can stay out on frost-free nights.
For difficult perennial herbs such as rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, sage, tarragon, and lavender, it is best to buy organically grown starter plants from a nursery.
Choose plants carefully. Buy vigorous bushy plants, not leggy thin plants, with good root systems that are free of stress, dryness, pests, or disease.
Strawberry Pot Herb Planters
Choose a terra cotta strawberry pot for a Tuscan look. Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom and put about 2.5 cm of pebbles inside the bottom of the planter for extra drainage.
Plan the planter with two considerations in mind: your favourite herbs and an attractive arrangement. An ideal plan includes an upright centerpiece on top, such as sage or lavender, surrounded by herbs such as chives or parsley, along with edible flowers such as pansies, nasturtiums, and calendulas. Cascading herbs such as rosemary and oregano work well in the side pockets as do neat cushions of thyme.
- Water all herbs before planting.
- Plant side pockets first.
- Top up the planter with moist potting mix to the first set of holes.
- Plant the first layer by placing herbs inside the pot and easing the foliage through the holes.
- Press firmly with your fingertips to avoid air pockets.
- Top up with more potting mix and plant the next layer.
- Fill planter to within 5 cm of the planter’s rim.
- Plant centerpiece deeply enough for the roots to support growth.
- Position chives and parsley in the top to give them a deep, moist root run.
- Allow room for plants to mature without overcrowding.
- Water thoroughly, using a wand or watering can; too much water pressure will cause soil to erode out the side pockets.
For immediate colour and taste sensations, intersperse edible flowers such as organically grown pansies in bloom. Nasturtiums and calendula bloom later in the season and will vary the colours and tastes in your salads.
Hanging Herb Baskets
Hanging planters are an extension of your exterior design. The best hanging planters are like the best gardens: diverse with something in bloom at every stage of the growing season. Interplant organically grown, edible flowers with herbs for an interplay of culinary and blooming delight.
Three types of plants make up the ideal structure for hanging planters:
- centrepieces–upright plants such as lavender and scented geraniums
- trailers–cascading plants such as catmint and creeping thyme
- fillers–create colour in gaps and include sweet peas and dianthus
Hanging planters require moist, well-drained potting mix. The potting medium should feel light and friable in your hand, not compacted and dense.
- Water all herbs before planting.
- Fill planter with potting mix to within 5 cm of the top; firm down.
- Plant upright centrepieces first, ensuring that the roots are deep enough to support growth.
- Plant trailers at an angle near the rim to encourage plants to spill over the edge.
- Plant fillers in gaps and leave space for plants to mature.
- Add a layer of fine bark mulch to the surface to aid moisture retention and help protect plants from overexposure to heat.
- Water thoroughly using a watering wand.
Hang baskets near your kitchen doorway for easy culinary access. Brushing up against the flowers and foliage releases a heady mix of scents. Herbs are naturally pest and disease resistant, and the flowers attract butterflies and bees.
Enjoy the highlights of aroma, colour, and vitality in your herbal plantings during the evenings when sunlight and scents are at their best.
Aromatic Herb Delight
- Centrepieces: silver lemon thyme (or purple sage
- Trailers: rosemary or catmint
- Fillers: ornamental onion and silver lace garlic
Edible Flowers and Herbs Basket
- Centrepieces: scented geranium and lavender
- Fillers: dianthus or sweet peas
- Trailers: spearmint or oregano
Sunnyside Nurseries in Tsawwassen, BC, suggests the following combination of herbs for your hanging basket:
- bush basil (Ocymum minumum)
- parsley: plain and Italian (Petroselinum crispum)
- trailing rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- sage (Salvia officinalis): golden, green, tricolour, and pineapple
- lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
- thyme: creeping and orange (Thymus vulgaris)
- catnip (Nepeta cataria)
- coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
- oregano (Origanum vulgare)
- summer savory (Satureja hortensis)