Grow your own herbs in containers
|herb seedlings from pixabay.com|
|basil from pixabay.com|
A packet of seed is great value. Herb seeds tend to be very small. To sow them:
- In your window-box or container, place broken crocks in the bottom for good drainage and fill with peat-free compost.
- Wet the top of the compost using a Rose on the end of your watering-can - a Rose produces a fine spray that will not over-soak the soil.
- Empty some of the seeds into the palm of your hand, and using thumb and forefinger of the other hand, lightly sprinkly the seeds on top of the compost.
- Cover very lightly with more compost and dampen with a misty spray.
How to thin-out seedlings
Within a few days you will see your seedlings begin to grow. Inevitably there will be too many. If they are crushed together they will not grow properly. Wait until the seedlings are big enough to handle without damaging them, then thin them out as follows:
- Hold the seedling lightly between your thumb and forefinger.
- With the end of a pencil, loosen the earth around the root and gently remove.
- Set aside any with good roots. Don't let the roots dry out. Smaller ones can be eaten immediately or sprinkled on a salad.
- Leave enough space between the remaining ones to give them room to grow. You can thin them out even further as they get bigger and you will have some more to eat each time you thin them out.
How to plant-up herb seedlings
Use the thinned-out seedlings that have good roots to plant up new containers. Replant immediately, the roots will dry quickly.
- Prepare your new container, remembering it should have good draining soil or compost. The ones used here have gardening gravel mixed with compost to improve drainage and stop the herbs becoming water-logged.
- Wet the top of the compost.
- Using the end of a pencil, make a small hole and carefully plant the seedling.
- Tap the compost round each seedling.
- Wet with a fine misty spray and keep moist but not soaked.
|salad plate from pixabay.com|
Growing salad leaves in planters
You can buy packets of mixed salad leaves in most good stores and garden centres. Good varieties to pick are:
American Land Cress
Mixed Lettuce Leaves
They make a colourful display on your window sill or patio and can be picked at any stage. They are particularly sweet when very young and tender and this serves to thin them out so don't worry too much about sowing them sparing. The other joy is that you can stagger the seeding, that is, sow some every two weeks, to ensure a continuing supply all summer long.
The only thing with any container planting is that you have to remember to water them, even when it rains, the water will not get right into the roots of containers. Feed with a liquid feed of seaweed extract every few weeks. Over fertilizing tends to attract bugs, but herbs are quite good at repelling insects.
Which herbs to grow
Any herb does well in pots and containers. Indeed some like mint are best kept in a plant-pot as they can be quite invasive if given the chance. Basil is easy enough to grow but can be tender, it doesn't like huge changes in temperature or wind. Grow outside in the summer and bring indoors for winter.
The best rule of thumb for choosing which herbs to grow is - grow what you will eat!
Try parsley, chives, coriander, mint, oregano, thyme, sage, and peppermint to start with.
The other joy of herbs is the smell. Containers surrounding your patio seating will reward you with bounty and pleasure.