herbal gardening in containers

Herbal Gardening- Container Gardening Tips

Container gardening for herbs can have a great many advantages, but, at the same time, can also present some special challenges to the herb gardener as well.

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Container gardening can have a great many advantages over the ordinary, outdoor gardening many of us are familiar with.

One benefit is that you can bring herbal plants indoors for winter, or grow them in the house all year round. Another is that soil control is easier and more precise, since nothing can get into the pot unless you put there. Light control is also a simpler thing...you can move a small container of herbs into shade, put it near a window, or place it under a lamp.

Of course, on the other hand, herbal container gardening can be tricky.

Left to her own, Mother Nature often does an excellent job of controlling moisture and nutrients without our help, given good soil to begin with. Adjusting for these, and other factors, on our own requires some care. Before soil, water, and light, care starts with selecting the right plants.

Fortunately for anyone interested in herbal container gardening, there are several excellent herbs that will grow in pots of all shapes and sizes. Basil grows fine in an old teapot and rosemary will be quite content in a coffee can. You can put thyme in a simple clay pot only a few inches high. Dill, mint, sage, and even lavender can be fairly easily grown in a container.

You always should start with good quality seeds. After all, seeds really are natural "food" products for the young plant, so, like any other food, they can spoil. Air contains airborne spores that can invade them and oxygen reacts with a wide variety of organic compounds. Getting and keeping them fresh is simple, but be sure to observe the dates on packages and discard any that have gotten wet.

Take care to pick appropriate spots for your containers. Some prefer full sun, others thrive in partial shade. Basil loves good warm soil and dry air, but it's sensitive to cold. If you put it near a window to get that sunlight, make sure the area isn't frosty in the winter.

In most populated areas in the Northern Hemisphere, sunlight comes in at an angle more from the south. Try to select areas where sun-loving plants will have southern exposure. Put those that prefer partial shade on the northern side, or in a shady area away from the window.

Prepare the soil properly and maintain it at the right moisture content. Lavender loves sun, but it also needs dry, alkaline soil. Using clay chips in the pot is great for retaining moisture, but it can do the job too well. In a container, clay absorbs and holds water for long periods. Be sure to have a mix of sandy soil and clay soil.

Water correctly. The most common problem for container plants is root rot from excessive moisture. Being wet all the time is okay for some plants, but most herbs want soil a little on the dryer side. For sage dry soil is good, but peppermint likes it moist.

Keep in mind, though, that "moist" doesn't mean perpetually wet. Press your thumb onto the surface. It should be a little springy for moist soil, harder for dry soil. Then insert a toothpick or, better still, a moisture gauge into the soil. Draw out the toothpick to see whether the soil under the surface is dry or moist. The gauge will give you a more exact and useful reading.

Plan your container garden well and you'll find that the plants will be easy to grow and maintain.



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Herbal Gardening in Containers
Page Updated 2:37 PM Saturday 6/28/2014