If you haven't had much success with gardening or don't feel that you have much of a green thumb, then container gardening is for you. When growing in containers, herbs can be rewarding as they can proudly provide harvests for your favourite meals and drinks. Of course, they also pack some powerful ingredients in them to stay healthy.
The majority of herbs that can be grown inside are easy to grow, but if you want them to thrive, here are a few tips:
- Two main tips for maintaining herbs can get you a long way. One, be sure to harvest your herb crops often when in the growing season and make sure you're using the right picking technique. If you choose stems from the base of the plant, you are encouraging tall, elongated growth. Picking this way will inhibit your herbs from looking healthy and lush. Instead, select the stems, just above the leaves, from the tip of each stem. This will encourage the growth of at least two new shoots making your herbs look bushy and vibrant.
- While not essential, tip two involves regularly feeding your herbs with worm tea or other liquid fertilizer, which can be picked up from any gardening or hardware store. For good growth and high yield, you will need to use this type of fertilizer to ensure that your plants are getting the minerals they need. You can revitalize even the weakest herbs, transforming them into healthy specimens with the use of fertilizer.
- Slow-release fertilizer is an excellent way to ensure a constant supply of nutrients when mixed in with the potting soil. Make sure you add this every six months to your soil.
- Watering depends on the plant's needs, their position in your home, the temperature, and the amount of rainfall in your area. The environment can be controlled more easily when your plants are kept indoors.
- 5-litre pots are the right starter size so that your plants have good room to grow, and they retain enough water without drying out too quickly.
- You can grow mixed herbs in pots; you need to match the plants' needs and sizes well. For instance, you don't want to incorporate plants that need plenty of water and those that prefer good drainage. Also, make sure to match the plants' sizes, so one doesn't outgrow the other.
- Don't be shy about asking the staff at your nursery for advice on your plant's needs. They are usually very knowledgeable and are happy to help you cultivate a love for gardening.
To start you off on your container garden adventures, we've chosen seven herbs that are useful in the kitchen to get you going:
Coriander is one extraordinarily versatile herb, used in Thai, Indian, Mexican, and a plethora of other cuisines. It's the perfect addition to the cook's kitchen.
Coriander seedlings need moist but well-drained soil. Be careful not to overwater as this can cause rotting in the sometimes vulnerable root system. It can grow in full sun and very light shade, and it welcomes liquid plant food every three to four weeks.
Often when planting in the spring, coriander goes to seed quite quickly, but this can be prevented by moving it to a shadier place and pruning the leaves more regularly. You can start planting coriander in early September for the best results. The best thing about it is it will slow during the winter months but will make a strong come back in spring, so keep going with it. Nutritionally, coriander is a good source of dietary fibre, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
Fantastic in many fresh salads, sprinkled over soup, or as a garnish for almost anything, chives grow like wildfire and are easy to maintain. Chives only need about 4 hours of sun in the day and are perfect for the windowsill spot above the sink. It mustn't dry out, so check the soil regularly for moisture and keep it damp. Best to start from seeds or seedlings in September or April. The great thing about Chives is that they are loaded with vitamin C, folate, and vitamin K.
Mint is a brilliant beginner container plant that copes with shady areas, used in cooking and making drinks. Each plant will need its own 5-litre pot to grow well. It will also need to be picked and watered regularly. The clincher for mint is that it quickly saps nutrients from the soil, so to have a lush and productive plant, this one is better off being fed with liquid fertilizer.
Try to plant mint from November to July and avoid August to October. When the end of spring comes, you will need to divide your mint plant and repot in new containers. This way, you can grow your mint collection, and these pretty little potted herbs are lovely as gifts. Mint is a good source of manganese and vitamin C.
Parsley may conjure up memories of garnish on some grey seventies dinners, but it's a pretty powerful addition to soups and stews. It also packs a nutritional punch. Very slow to start; this is one of the best plants to experiment with growing from seed. These plants live for about two years, and they will keep producing leaves until they eventually flower. It's best to start growing in mid-August. Of course, you can buy a parsley plant from the nursery or supermarket to get you started more quickly. Parsley is an epic source of vitamin K, A, and C. In vitamin K alone, Parsley has 154% of our required daily intake for optimal health.
5. Rosemary and Thyme
These are hardier and woodier herbs that have a unique flavor. Brilliant in red meat dishes, stocks, pasta, and much more. Usually these plants do not like having wet roots, so you will need to be careful not to overwater them. Well-balanced soil with high drainage is a must, and this can easily be organised with a little input from the nursery staff. Rosemary is an excellent source of vitamin B6 and potassium, and Thyme packs a vitamin B punch.
Basil is a sun lover and thrives in a warm environment. It needs to be sheltered from the elements to grow well, so if you're growing it in pots outside, make sure they're in a place where it won't get battered by the rain and wind. You can start sowing seeds in June and July, and seedlings are great to start August through October. As far as watering goes, Basil loves wet roots so you can water it in the morning and make sure you choose a soil mix with good drainage. Basil is a good source of vitamin K, iron, manganese, and vitamin A. Would you guess that Basil is even a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids?
Sage can be pungent but used in moderation; it can add fabulous flavor to many dishes. One favourite is sage and browned butter pasta. Sage can be grown from seed quite quickly. Seedlings are best started in late August and early September, but if you want to give it a go and start from seeds, it's best to begin in June to allow them to gain some strength before the start of spring. If you're looking for some zinc and vitamin A, sage has it in heaps and small amounts of copper and magnesium as well.