Scratch your spring gardening itch with these tips on how to plant a container herb garden that’s packed with antioxidants.
Spring is in the air along with the itch to get out and put your hands in the earth. A fun and simple way to do this is by starting a container herb garden. Herbs are packed with antioxidants and can add a flavor boost to your favorite recipes. Here Amber Hoover, a registered dietitian with Roper St. Francis, shares some of her best tips for planting a bountiful container herb garden.
Find a Sunny Spot for Your Herbs
Putting your herbs in containers creates an easy to care for garden. Your containers can be placed indoors or out, just as long as your plants are exposed to plenty of sun. A good rule of thumb is find a spot that gets 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
Pick the Right Herbs
You’ve found your sunny spot and now you’re ready to choose your herbs. For the beginner, pick low-maintenance herbs such as parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil and mint. Mint has a tendency to take over your garden, so keep it in a separate pot. Try to group annual herbs together and do the same with your perennials. Basil, sage and rosemary grow as shrubs and can also provide a fragrant accent to your outdoor landscape.
Planting and Watering Your Herbs
When picking a container for your herbs look for ones that have good drainage. A container without good drainage can cause water to stagnate at the base of the pot. It’s also important to choose a container with plenty of room for your herbs to grow. When potting your herbs, aim for one gallon of soil mix per plant. With watering be sure to read the instructions that come with your herb. Watering is normally needed when the soil feels dry to the touch. However, some herbs require more water, while others such as lavender prefer a drier soil.
Herb Harvest Time
You may snip, using gardening shears or scissors, your plants regularly to encourage branching and new growth. When harvesting though, try not to cut more than one-third of the stem’s length. Enjoy cooking with your herbs, placing them in bouquets or even in a fragrant bath. And, if you’re not ready to tackle an herb garden just yet, the good news is the dried herbs found in grocery stores contain an equal amount of nutritional value.