Herbs are sort of an elusive dream for me. I want to grow them (all of them), but up until now, I simply haven't been able to figure out the right way to fit them into my garden plans (basil is the notable exception, but we consume basil like it's a vegetable, so I'm not including it the herb category for right now).
There are two main obstacles I have to overcome with herbs:
First, there's the garden space. Up until this year's addition of a second community garden plot, I've really struggled with having enough space to grow everything I want to grow, and herbs just simply didn't make the cut.
Secondly, many of the herbs I want to grow are perennials, and I struggle with permanently committing to perennials in my raised beds where I want the ability to rotate crops and use good companion planting practices. Not to mention that perennial herbs are notorious for spreading and taking over a lot of garden real estate.
Of course I've tried the obvious solution of growing a few herbs in containers, but it just hasn't been the right fit (I'm actually really terrible at watering container gardens) and I've been somewhat dissatisfied with the results. The other obvious solution would be to make a permanent herb garden, and while I've already picked out the perfect space in the yard to do just that, there have been too many other projects that have taken priority and it just hasn't happened yet.
And so earlier this spring I came up with different solution - a hybrid of growing herbs in containers and growing herbs in the garden: sunken herb pots.
I was able to start a variety of herbs from seed this spring, but instead of transplanting them directly into the garden, or into larger containers to set around the yard, I put them into recycled plastic containers (from the mums I put in the window boxes last fall) and simply sunk the plastic pots down into the garden to soil level.
It's not the permanent herb garden with horseradish, lavender, and every kind of mint imaginable that I dream of, but it is the best of both worlds for the time being. This method gives me the ability to have the benefit of growing herbs in the garden, where they'll be well taken care of and watered regularly, but I'm not committed to always having chives in the same place in the vegetable garden year after year.
The pots have a number of benefits: they're not permanent, they contain the spreaders, and they can come into the house at the end of the season for an extended harvest. Also, you wouldn't even have to start the herbs from seed--just go to the garden center, pick out your herbs, and sink them right into the ground.
Initially I had the herbs out at the community garden. From the get go, I never felt it was the ideal location, but it was where I had the extra space. They were doing okay out there, but my preference was pretty strong to have them closer to the kitchen. Luckily, when I harvested the last of the spinach last weekend, I discovered the perfect location for them in the front of the two 4x4 raised beds.
Moving them over was a piece of cake, and is good practice for when I pop the perennial herbs out of the garden this fall and attempt to overwinter them in the basement. But for now I'm more than ready to start enjoying homegrown mint, thyme, oregano, summer savory, chives, cumin, borage, and dill!
Labels: garden plans, garden projects, herbs, seed starting