Fresh basil on homemade pizza, fresh oregano in a pasta sauce, fresh thyme on roasted chicken – when it comes to cooking, fresh herbs are the secret to taking your dish from good to mouthwatering! Luckily, herbs in containers are one of the easiest things to grow, which means that you can blow your dinner guests or your family away with homegrown scents and flavours that totally transform your cooking.
Fresh herbs are easy to grow and are so delicious and healthy! Here are our five essential tips to growing a vibrant and lush potted herb container garden!
1. Grow organic.
Herbs grown in organic soil and with organic fertilizer have much better flavour and potency. We recommend using quality organic soil like this one to get the best results. Don’t forget that regular fertilization is an important step in caring for any plants! During the growing season, feed your herbs with a slow-release organic fertilizer or a half-strength solution of organic liquid fertilizer such as Sea Magic every three to four weeks.
2. Provide good drainage.
Herbs thrive on good drainage, so make sure that your pot has sufficient drainage holes. Elevating pots on pottery feet, bricks, stones, or even another pot turned upside-down can improve drainage. And it’s not just your container or your pot placement that matters – well-draining soil is KEY! Our favourite herb growing medium is a mix of lava rock with organic soil. It allows perfect drainage and a rich medium in which your herbs growing in containers will thrive!
3. Plant with the needs of the herb varieties in mind.
Chives are perennial and overwinter very well, so they are a great option for planting directly into the ground. Mint is an aggressive plant that will take over an entire area or container, so you’ll want to give it its very own pot. Watering needs will vary according to the variety of herbs and the pot size and type you choose. Be sure to consider all of these factors before planting.
4. Know when to water and when to wait.
Drought-tolerant herbs such as rosemary, lavender, thyme, and oregano like soil on the dryer side, so let the potting soil dry slightly between waterings. For moisture lovers like basil and chives, keep the mix slightly moist – about as damp as a wrung-out sponge – at all times. The best way to tell when it’s time to water is to let your finger be your guide. If the soil feels dry 1 to 2 inches below the surface, then it’s probably time to water. Be sure to water thoroughly until you see water flowing freely from the pot’s drainage holes.
5. Pinch and harvest.
The more you pinch off and use your herbs, the more they’ll be encouraged to leaf out. The result will be a bushier and more productive plant, so don’t be shy – snip those flavourful sprigs and get cooking! If you want to get the most out of your herb garden, place your pots near your kitchen; you’ll use them more often.
If you’re interested in connecting with others passionate about herbs, you can join the Herb Society of Manitoba.
Now that you’re prepped and ready to grow, get started by scrolling through this lovely list of fresh herbs that are popping up weekly in our greenhouse. Then, browse this helpful collection of specific tips for your favourites. You can make your selections with total abandon, or have fun with a theme like Mexican or Italian!
Now… what’s for dinner?!