Many of you who are reading this article are already growing your own herbs… or at a minimum, enjoying fresh herbs in one fashion or the other. If so, by now you enjoyed the many benefits that Mother Nature’s hardest working – and least finicky – plants offer. Simply put, they make our food taste better; make the air we breathe sweeter and more fragrant; keep us healthier; and improve the beauty of our surroundings. However, you may not have given a great deal of thought to why herbalists, like me, genuinely prefer pot herb gardens over all others.
If not, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to learn why it simply doesn’t make sense – at least in my opinion – to grow herbs anywhere else but pots – even if you have acres of land available!
Following are several quick and straightforward reasons for getting into container herb gardening.
1. City dwellers, apartment residents, and “small home” owners – or anyone with limited space – can grow fresh herbs! Compact pots can be placed on balconies, railings, windowsills, decks, living room floors… you name it. No direct sunshine? No problem. Just set your pots under artificial sun lamps and you’re good to go! It’s like having your own portable farm!
2. Pots offer greater flexibility, portability, and longevity. Start your herbs indoors or outdoors – the choice is yours. Then, when weather – or desire – dictates, move them in or out. Also, since the vast majority of herbs are perennials (i.e. they “come back” year after year as opposed to annuals that live one season and die off), they’re like the gifts that keep on giving!
However, if planted in the ground outside, your herbs would go dormant during the winter months (unless you live in a very mild climate) and you’d have to wait until spring for them to come back. So, why settle for fresh herbs several months when you can have them year round simply by planting them in pots!
3. Pots are pretty. Okay, this one is a bit of a stretch, but worth mentioning. Although your herbs don’t give a hoot whether they’re planted in a tin coffee can or a fancy urn (and they’ll do just as well in either), you might. After all, there’s a good chance you’ll be looking at your herbs for a very long time, so why not let select pots that enhance the look and feel of your home as well? I happen to be a “container fanatic” – I absolutely love beautiful Mexican pottery, ceramic urns, unusual terrariums, simple terra cotta pots, and the like. It gives me great enjoyment to create beautiful surroundings (I am a frustrated interior decorator :>), so I plant my herbs in pots that are pleasing aesthetically as well. Additionally, I group my herb plants with other ornamental flowers, fruits and vegetables. The results are often stunning and provide me that much more pleasure.
4. Some herbs just plain need to be “controlled.” Herbs grow like weeds; as a matter of fact, some botanists still consider them weeds (a bit insulting, if you ask me). And although herbs are wonderful “garden mates” there are several that will simply grow out of control if left to their own devices! So, pots then perform another valuable service; they act as natural “containments” for fast-growing, prolific herbs, like mint. But be sure to give your herb plants enough room to stretch out comfortably! (Tip: your pot should be 1.5 times the size of your herb plant). And if your plants seriously outgrow your containers, simply transplant them into something larger!
5. Pots allow you to move your herb plants to spots less tempting to critters. Recently, I mistakenly placed two of my herb pots (containing my favorites – dill and sage) on my deck’s railing. As I sat outside and sipped my coffee the next morning I noticed that one very determined squirrel had his/her little head buried in one of my pots and was happily chomping down on my precious dill! He/She had eaten my plant down to the very nub, and my luscious sage plant was nothing more than a memory.
My advice? Keep your pots close to your home; close to your cats and dogs; close to your broom – far away from “easy-access” critter areas! (What’s even worse is that there’s plenty of food on our deck for birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and the entire animal kingdom. They need to leave my herbs alone).
So, grow those herbs! But please, put them in pots so you too, can enjoy their bounties all year long! Here’s to your happy and healthy pot herb garden!
Mary E. Eule, BA, MS is a professional writer and researcher who been an avid container herb gardener for over 25 years. She is also the author of the comprehensive, step-by-step guide, “The Down to Earth Guide to Easy Container Herb Gardening,” Visit her website: http://ContainerHerbGardening.com to purchase her e-book, download her free herb e-course or to get additional tips and articles on pot herb gardens.