Growing a Herb garden can be a fun and rewarding experience and a great addition to your culinary skills. You can enjoy snipping herbs to add to food, brew in relaxing teas, and toss into your salads. Herb gardening in containers is a useful, attractive addition that is relatively easy to maintain and most varieties can be grown successfully on a windowsill, a patio or a balcony.
Just about any container will work to grow herbs in but keep in mind, most varieties prefer fast draining soil, so your container must have adequate holes to drain. Ideally, you will water your container garden only when needed. Feel the soil 2 to 3 inches below the surface, if it is still wet, don’t water. When you grow plants in containers, it’s important to provide them with a high quality potting soil and for best results, most herb varieties require at least 6 hours of sun per day.
You can grow herbs in pots together but some types of herbs will out-perform others in containers and remember to avoid mixing those that like plenty of water (such as chives, mint, chervil, coriander,) with those that like a well-drained soil (such as rosemary, thyme, sage, bay, and oregano).
Here are a few herbs you may want to start off with;
Basil plants are easy to maintain indoors and out. Remember to pinch off the flowering buds whenever they appear. Not only will basil enhance many dishes, it is also considered one of the healthiest herbs, as basil leaves are rich in antioxidants, it provides an array of health benefits.
Mint is very versatile, you can use it for everything from tea to mojitos, to mint and coriander chutney. It’s also easy to grow, even in difficult shady spaces that only get a little sun. Growing mint in a pot is best so you can keep it from spreading, which it will do quite easily. Mint is a great appetizer or palate cleanser, and it promotes digestion.
Brilliant in salads, snipped up over soups, or added as garnish to many dishes. Growing chives is an easy way to always have a mild onion flavour on hand in your garden. Also, chives boast pretty lavender blooms in spring, making them attractive herbs for flowerbeds as well as herb gardens. Make sure it doesn’t dry out, as chives like damp soil.
Parsley is a hardy herb grown for its flavour, which is added to many dishes, as well as its use as a decorative garnish. Aside from its deliciousness, parsley is a powerhouse of nutrients. Did you know that parsley actually has more vitamin C in it than an orange? Try adding several leaves and stalks to your morning juicing blend.
Sage, Bay, Thyme, Rosemary
Not only are they the most common herbs called for in recipes, but they are also the best herbs that you can freeze for later use. Easy to grow with unique flavours, these classic herbs are excellent for soups, stocks, meats, pastas and more. They don’t like wet roots, so grow in well-drained soil and take care not to over-water. You can grow sage from seeds but the others are better bought as plants.
Also known as cilantro, prefers cool weather, so it should be planted in the spring or fall. Coriander adds fresh flavour in everything from salsa to marinades. This plant will survive most winters, and it’ll grow back strong and lush in the spring. Cilantro or coriander herb contains an impressive list of nutrients, essential oils, anti-oxidants that are required for optimal health and wellness.
Everyone loves good food, and herbs grown in your own container garden is simply the best. Chef Martin has recently planted a herb garden at the Old Mill Toronto, and we are growing Basil, Purple Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley, Dill, Sage and Oregano to enhance our delicious recipes.