It is herb planting time! I decided that instead of creating another raised bed, we would plant our fresh herbs in containers on our deck. It makes it easier to grow in a container and much easier to harvest by just stepping out the back door.
We bought these terrific copper containers (pictured above in composite) in two sizes about three years ago from http://www.smithandhawken.com
and had planted various annuals, then for the last two years had perennial plants in them which have been transplanted to the perennial border. This year they will be home to our herb garden.
Growing herbs from seeds is the most cost effective and easiest way to grow herbs. Herb seedlings at the garden center (not organically grown) run anywhere from $1.50 to $3.95; herb seed packets are around $1.00 for seeds you can use for 2 years and with multiple plants.
I also grow herbs in the perennial border that return year after year such as lemon thyme (outstanding with grilled fish and vegetables) and culinary grade lavender for use in summer ice cream and to dry in the fall to keep all winter.
This year, we are planting
While growing herbs in containers is very convenient, special care should be taken in their planting and care to ensure they will sprout and thrive in your pots. First the soil should be really light (about 75% peat, 20% soil and 5% pearlite or vermiculite). Next you will want to add a water soluble organic fertilizer to the mix. I don’t recommend any compost to be put in the soil, but you can make compost tea for watering.
I usually do not start herb seeds prior to planting in the pots, it is very easy to broadcast the seeds, cover with more soil and then water generously to ensure the peat swells and is saturated with water for proper germination. Seed germination should take only a few days for most herbs. Rosemary and Tarragon may take a few days longer to germinate. Full maturity will come in about 35-40 days, but the best part is that you can take snips of the herbs for your cooking and medicinal purposes and the herbs just branch out more.
I have used herbs in my cooking for as long as I have been cooking. My grandmother taught me the principles of their flavor and what they did for food. I have expanded on that to use herbs not only for culinary pursuits, but for natural healing properties as well. I use an infused rosemary tea to rid my partner and I of migraine headaches. Thyme infusion tea is excellent for cold or flu symptoms and to shorten the duration of the affliction (combine the tea with a drop of Echinacea and a bit of honey). I am not a physician, nor do I make any medical claims for these herbal remedies. I read about them in an old herb book from the 19th century and decided to try them out and found they work for us.
Growing, harvesting, using and even drying herbs is a delightful pursuit, it is a simple way of using natural ingredients to take your cooking to a new level!