Herbs are a great addition to growing vegetables and fruit. There are lots of uses for herbs and the great thing is that you can grow them almost anywhere.
With so many great locations you can grow herbs, you can mix and match where you grow them. Maybe you have a few containers of herbs and then some herbs planted in between your vegetables as well as that pot of herbs on your kitchen windowsill. The combinations are almost endless!
Let’s look at the five main places you can grow herbs in.
Herbs were almost meant for containers. Most herbs prefer drier soil and don’t want to have their roots wet all the time. With containers you can control how much water they get.
Almost any container will work. Herbs especially like terracotta or stone containers as these warm up and retain heat better.
Plus for those herbs that are frost-sensitive, you can move the containers into a sheltered, frost-free location such as an unheated garage, greenhouse or storage shed.
The key with containers is to use a free-draining soil. For herbs a good all-around potting soil works best. Don’t use garden soil as it will be too heavy.
Some herbs can be invasive, either via their spreading roots like mint or are proficient self-seeders such as chamomile. Keeping these in containers controls their spreading habit.
While hanging baskets are just another form of container, it is a unique way to grow herbs.
When you are short on space, especially if growing on a balcony or a postage-stamp sized townhouse backyard, you need to think vertically.
Hanging baskets can be hung on sturdy hooks and even tiered so that you maximize the space.
Herbs do well in hanging baskets as air can freely circulate around the plants keeping them dry. It’s also at a convenient height to snip off some herbs without having to stoop down.
There are some trailing varieties of herbs such as creeping thyme (Thymus praecox) and even a prostrate or creeping rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis “Prostratus”).
The great things about herbs is that many help to repel pests and/or attract beneficial insects that will help pollinate your veggie plants or keep pest populations in control.
And some herbs such as basil are perfect complements for tomato plants as they help improve the flavour of the tomatoes, not only on the plate or salad bowl but also when they’re still on their host plants.
It’s important to space out herb plants so as not to crowd your veggie plants. Keeping the herb plants trimmed and frequently harvested will also help contain them.
However there are two herbs you definitely shouldn’t plant with veggies. Mint, as it is extremely invasive and will eventually spread through your whole veggie bed. This herb is best grown in containers to keep it from spreading. It can deter mammal pests so you can always place one or two containers of mint next to your beds.
And the second herb is fennel. In general it will stunt the growth of any other plants grown close to it, so you definitely want to find a place away from your veggie garden, preferably where it can grow all by itself. A large container on a patio or deck might be the best place for it.
Herbs are a great complement to flower beds as well.
Many herbs have colourful flowers if allowed to bloom. But even their green foliage can work as an interesting subtle backdrop to the ornamental flowers you’re growing.
And as with veggie beds, herbs can help repel pests that can infect your flowers.
However the fragrance is what stands out. Just brushed against the foliage of herbs such as lavender or rosemary can add to the bouquet of scents already in your flower garden.
So as you’re designing your flower beds, consider including some herb plants as well.
Finally you can grow many herbs indoors successfully. The traditional kitchen windowsill herb garden is a great idea, where you can snip off some herbs as you are cooking without needing to head outdoors.
A few containers of basil, oregano, thyme and maybe a rosemary plant work well to give you a good variety of easy-to-grow indoor herbs.
Indoor growing does require some extra care to avoid overwatering, as that can lead to mildew and moisture issues, not only for the plants but also your house and general air quality. Don’t overwater, use drip trays and make sure to empty any water in those drip trays.
And ensure indoor herbs get enough light. You may have to supplement with artificial lighting, especially in winter. Now with LED bulbs it costs just pennies to throw some light on your herbs.
The versatility of places where you can grow herbs plus the versatility in using the herbs you harvest, make herbs an almost no-brainer to include in your food garden wherever it may be.
Do you grow herbs? Where do you grow them? Hope this inspires you to try some new locations to grow herbs.
If you enjoyed this article, have something to add or have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Wishing you all the best!
Tranquil Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC