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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Creating a herb garden with limited space


If space is tight then there are many combinations of herbs that will thrive and do well in containers. Many of these can be easily grown from seed or purchased as fully grown herb plants from garden centres or specialist nurseries.

To begin with you need to decide on how many plants you want to grow and then select a pot or container that's wide and deep enough to accommodate them comfortably. If the herbs are going to be near the kitchen door then choose something that will look good such as a stone through. Depending on the varieties you select then you could be fit in up to six plants into just a 30cm pot.

As with other pots broken pot shards or gravel at the bottom of the pot and then fill up with compost. Choose the arrangement for your your plants in the container, placing smaller growing plants at the edges.
Fill up the container between the plants with a good quality multi-purpose compost leaving a 2 to 3 cm lip at the top, this will mak watering easier, water the plants in well and let the compost settle, top up the compost a little if necessary.

Once you have finished cover the top of the pot in a layer of grit, this will keep weeds down and help retain moisture. Place your pot into position. You must remember to keep the containers well watered, as they tend to dry out a lot quicker than if they are planted in the ground.

A wooden barrel makes a good container,  planted with parsley, chives, trailing thyme, sage, basil, coriander, tarragon, and with French lavender planted in the center looks very effective and is a nice mix of herbs to try. If you keep it on a balcony or the patio outside your back door it is handy for access to your herbs even on rainy days! You can even put a selection of herbs in a hanging basket. Parsley, chives, thyme, coriander, with creeping rosemary, and basil are all good examples. Some herbs, however can be quite invasive,as they can take over. Mint is very invasive, and is best kept out of the garden, and put in a container of it's own or it will come up everywhere.

4 Good Container plants

Sage is a great plant that is easy to grow and will reward you for a long time. It does well if regularly picked and the tips pinched out to prevent it becoming too woody. Generally you need to replant Sage after about 3 years or so as it will become leggy and woody almost regardless of what you do. Its a very easy plant to take cuttings from so well worth having some new plants ready before you need to replace it. Sage is a good herb to dry and if you pick regularly though the growing season you can have plenty of sage available for over the winter.

Rosemary is a wonderful herb. It dries perfectly, holds its strong taste all winter, comes indoors and keeps growing in a sunny window and is rarely bothered by insects. It is a Mediterranean plant so hates to become waterlogged, so pot growing is ideal.

Basil is another perfect container herb.It does well with other veggies and adds a lovely flavour, it complements tomatoes very well. It likes more water than some of the other herbs otherwise it starts to dry out. Water regularly but watch out for mildew which will form if it doesn't have sufficient airflow.

Thyme is one of my favourite herbs. Plus it will do well in a container environment, needing only minimal watering. Some varieties of Thyme grow into small shrub-like plants that enhance an entrance, and it will also reward you with small purple flowers. Its low maintenance so ideal here.

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