Ask any foodie the secret to making everyday meals come to life and 9 times out of 10 it will be fresh herbs. Like a cache of flavor and fragrance, fresh herbs are your ticket to a whole new way of eating.
The same is true with gardening. If you’re planning to grow just one thing let it be herbs. They’re honestly a win win all around — easy to grow, carefree and loaded with goodness that can be difficult to find at the store. Plus, harvest only what you need when you need it, soak in unique and intoxicating aromas, attract pollinators and grow hard to find varieties.
Thai basil, lemon basil, lemon verbena, lime thyme, caraway thyme, lovage and more — grow them in the most compact of spaces and, with the right amount of sun, you’ll soon be grazing from garden-to-table. In fact, most of these varieties can be grown in a single box, like this wine box.
This particular box (above) is filled with lemon thyme, lemon verbena, African blue basil, pineapple sage and anise hyssop. They’re all fairly durable and paired for their water wise nature. This combination is perfect for flavoring cocktails, desserts, soups, marinades, dressings and preserves.
Cilantro, scented geranium, parsley, Italian basil, tarragon, oregano, chervil and lavender are a few more fabulous choices for any herb garden. Mix and match with edible flowers and grow the herbs you love and immediately take your cooking to a new place.
Tips for Planting Your Herb Garden
Plant your own wine box herb garden in just minutes. All you need is a box, organic potting soil and your herbs of choice. Grow them from seed and transplant them or buy starts at your local nursery. (You may find more varieties to choose from when growing them from seed plus it’s cost effective.)
Before planting, devise a watering plan. Will this box live outside your kitchen door where you can easily repurpose water from washing greens and other food prep? Will you water it by hand, with nanny pots, an irrigation system or possibly an olla like the one I’m using?
If using an olla, plan to fill it with water once every 2 or 3 days depending on the weather. In times of hot, dry weather you’ll be filling your olla more frequently and less frequently when weather is cool. Also, place plants that require more water closer to the olla and drought tolerant plants further away.
When planting, one trick is to start with moist soil. If you’re working with soil that is bone dry, wet it first and mix it by hand or with a trowel until the water takes hold. Water will roll off excessively dry soil and it can take some patience to hydrate it.
What is An Olla?
An olla is ceramic basin made from low fire clay, making it porous. As soil dries out, water is wicked from the basin into surrounding soil. I found this olla by Growoya (size small) at my nursery but you can also find them on Amazon: GrowOya 1020-4 Vessel Pot Planter&44; Small
I’ve had great success by placing my olla in the center of the box, then filling it with soil up to the neck or collar of the olla. Once soil is in place, you’re ready to plant.
Harvest leaves of herbs as you need them or take sprigs of herbs by snipping the stem just above the point where leaves and stem meet. Use them right away, store them in a glass of water on your kitchen windowsill or tuck them in the crisper of your refrigerator.
For more tips on harvesting and storing herbs see How to Harvest Basil and DIY Cocktail Herb Garden: How to Grow & Use Scented Geranium.
Growing herbs in a wine box or another, similar sized box keeps it light, allowing it to be move it around as needed. Chase the sun or bring it inside when temperatures drop. Or take it to the party, it’s a compelling centerpiece when dining outdoors. Enjoy it in almost any space and love it!
It’s a perfect opportunity to experiment with new flavors and grow what you love.
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See the herb garden we planted at the Lomography USA garden workshop: Happy Earth Day: Unplugged in NYC with Pass the Pistil