Plant Culinary Container Herb Garden Right Outside the Kitchen Door

Plant Culinary Container Herb Garden Right Outside the Kitchen Door

Don’t plant culinary herbs way out in the garden. Plant a container herb garden right outside your kitchen door so you can quickly run out and snip some while you’re cooking dinner. If you put it in a decorative container, you can feature it on your deck. Show your guests how to “scratch and sniff.” Most people are amazed and delighted when shown how to rub the leaves of herbs between their fingers and then “sniff” them.

You can plant a culinary container herb garden virtually any time during the growing season, providing you can find the potted herbs.

Here’s an easy, quick “kitchen” herb garden you can put together in an afternoon.

Get the containers. Start with a 12 inch outdoor planter. It’s OK if it’s a little larger, like 14 or 15 inches. Also get a 6 inch terra-cotta pot and enough regular potting soil to fill them both up.

Don’t get the kind of potting soil with fertilizer or plant food in it; herbs prefer soil that’s not too rich.

Get the herb plants. Here’s my list of seven culinary must-haves: chives, cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

Time to put it all together. Transplant the rosemary into the 6 inch terra-cotta pot. Place the entire pot directly into the center of the soil in the 12 inch (or larger) container. Push it down so that only the fatter part at the top of the pot is showing. Planting the rosemary in its own pot makes it easy to bring it indoors for the winter. It also makes use of the space in the center of the larger container.

Plant the rest of the herbs in a ring around the potted rosemary. If you pretend the container is an analog clock face, plant the remaining herbs in the following positions:

12 o’clock – parsley
2 o’clock – cilantro
4 o’clock – chives
6 o’clock – thyme
8 o’clock – oregano
10 o’clock – sage

Use a small garden trowel and transplant the herbs in their respective positions. Plant the herbs near the edge of the large container so that the low-growing thyme and spreading oregano can cascade over the sides.

Put the container herb garden in a sunny place with the parsley in the 12 o’clock position at the northern-most point. Cilantro and chives will be on the east side, oregano and sage on the west and thyme on the south.

Water the herb garden two or more times a week and more often in hot, dry summer weather.

Before it freezes for the first time in autumn, bring the potted rosemary into the house so you can keep it in a south-facing window over the winter. Don’t over water it but don’t let it dry out either.

Except for the cilantro, the rest of the herbs in the container garden will keep growing outdoors even after a few light frosts. (Cilantro is a tender annual which has a tendency to go to seed. Chances are that it’ll be finished for the season long before the first fall frost.)

You can store the larger container herb garden in an unheated garage, closet or basement, depending on the severity of your winters. Give it a little water during the winter months if the soil appears dry. There’s no guarantee that all of the herbs will survive winter, but some might.

In spring, put it back in full sun as soon as temperatures stay in the forties during the day, even if it gets cold at night. Water well. If they lived, they’ll start growing in just a few weeks.

And if they didn’t, start a new container herb garden. You already have the container and the rosemary from last year. And because herbs are seldom bothered by pests, it’s OK to re-use the soil.

Copyright Sharon Sweeny, 2009. All rights reserved.

Sharon Sweeny is a creative copywriter, specializing in gardening and self-sufficient do-it-yourself lifestyles. She divides her free time among her garden in Minneapolis, alternately juggling half a dozen creative projects and blogging on gardening while pondering the exact location of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota.

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