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Patio Herb Gardening

Fresh herbs are great to have any time of the year. You can grow them indoors, as well as outside on your patio. In fact, it’s easy to move them from one place to another so that no matter how chilly the weather, you’ll have a self-sufficient way to season your meals and infuse olive oils.

Start With the Basic Supplies

Herbs are fairly easy to grow on a patio, so you’ll need a small pot for each type of herb that you plan on producing, or a large one that fits many different types. Clay pots work well, and come with drainage spaces on the bottoms. An 8-inch pot is the most recommended size, although as they grow, you might find yourself sizing up to a 14-inch one, in order to prevent the roots from becoming cramped. If you’re the crafty type, you can paint the name of each herb onto the pots, to make it easier to differentiate between them. A small wooden stick with this information placed into the soil works as well. You don’t want to reach for the oregano and accidentally grab the mint!

You’ll also need soil, the plants themselves – unless you plan on growing them from seed – and sunny space to grow them in. Most herbs require at least 4 hours of sunshine a day.

Choosing Your Herbs

There are many different types of herbs to grow on your patio. However, you should stick to the ones that you know that you’ll use in your garden. It doesn’t make sense to grow dill if you have no desire to pickle anything. Also, you need to keep your neighborhood animals in mind. For example, planting catnip when you have a ton of stray cats around might bring in foot traffic that you don’t want.

With that said, here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Basil – Basil likes moist soil and full sun. You can easily transplant it from a seedling into a decently sized pot, although growing it from seed is a successful approach as well. This herb will grow to be around 24 inches tall, so it will need to be moved into a bigger pot as it matures.  It’s an annual, so once your basil produces flowers, it will stop growing. At this point, harvest what remains and be prepared to start over next year.

Parsley – Parsley needs soil that drains well, and it will grow nicely in either full sun or partial shade. This plant is smaller than basil, and reaches a height of 16 inches at most. It’s a biennial, so it will last for two years, going through dormant and growth periods. Keep in mind that it will produce more tasty leaves during its second year. Like basil, you can grow parsley from seedlings (from your local garden store) or from seeds.

Thyme – Thyme is an evergreen perennial, meaning that you can harvest it as needed year-round for quite a bit of time. It is a very hardy herb that doesn’t grow out of control; instead, it stays compact, topping out at 12 inches high and not very far around. It prefers to be propagated from cuttings of other thyme plants, and its preferred conditions are well-draining sandy soil and full sunlight. You can grow it from transplanted seedlings as well, but won’t have as much luck with plain seeds.

Oregano – Oregano is another herb that likes to be propagated or transplanted. However, unlike thyme, it will spread out as it grows, so you will eventually have to transfer it out of a round pot. This herb likes full sun and soil that drains well, but isn’t overly finicky. It is a perennial, and will reach a maximum height of 24 inches.

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Pic by Thomas Kriese

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2 Responses to Patio Herb Gardening

  1. JB March 13, 2017 at 4:19 pm #

    I have never had problems with Chives but mint and lately sage, basil and the like I have been having problems growing.When I lived in Calif. I was able to raise these without having to replant each spring. And don’t get me started on Lavender or Chamomile! Both either don’t come up or the wither and die just as they are starting to sprout. Living in the Dakotas gives me a small window to plant and raise ANYTHING. What can I do????

    • Mario Leal March 13, 2017 at 6:14 pm #

      Hi, JB! The Dakotas offers a significant challenge. Most of these like the temperatures to be above 60. What temperatures are you trying to go in? How about the soil? Are these out on the patio or on a window sill? For one of the dead plants, have a look at the soil. If the water line goes all the way to the bottom, you are probably watering too much. Are they long and lanky? That may mean they are not getting enough light. Look for pests, too. I am thinking the soil may be too acidic. Try different potting soil. I hope this helps!! -Mario

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