I’ve been putting it off and I’m blaming the cold and not procrastination for it. But since Spring is here, or at least I hope it is, I have no more excuse but to finally commit to growing my own herb garden.

Ever since we moved to the Dogpatch last year, Dennis and I have been thinking about starting our own vegetable garden. Inspired by the community garden in Potrero Hill, we thought about tending one for ourselves in our huge patio, huge by city standards of course. And so this past weekend, we rolled up our sleeves, tidied up the patio and finally started our very own herb garden.

We are starting small — basil, mint, parsley, rosemary, and thyme — our favorite herbs that we cook most with. We don’t want to get too ambitious and plant a bunch of stuff only to find out that we don’t have a green thumb. But if all goes well, we’ll probably throw in chive, oregano and tarragon in the mix. Maybe some lavender.

As much as we want to grow herbs in the ground, we really don’t have much of a choice but to grow them in pots.   Alanna Kellogg has great suggestions about growing herbs in pots.

We used eight-inch diameter lightweight pots with drainage holes at the bottom and we planted a single herb to a pot. Large pots this size will hold enough moisture on hot rainless summer days while the drainage holes will prevent plants from drowning.

Herb Garden

What about the soil?

“For extra-large pots, fill the bottom third or half of the pot with styrofoam popcorn or even used wine corks. The pot will need less soil and be quite a bit lighter, making it easier to move or at least turn. Then fill with soil. If you’re doing just a couple of pots, buy a premixed soil called potting soil, which will be loose and easy to work with. For more soil, it’s easy to make your own potting mix.” – Kellogg

Our patio gets flooded with morning sun, which is perfect for plants since afternoon sun is hard on them.  We found a spot that’s bright in the morning but has plenty of shade in the late afternoon.  It is important to find a spot that gets direct sun for at least six hours a day because herbs love the heat.

How about watering and caring for the herbs?

In hot climates, Kellogg recommends watering daily unless it rains. She soaks them in the morning, filling the pots until water begins to drain out of the holes in the bottom. But for San Francisco, I think we’d have to come up with our own watering schedule and see how it goes since we wouldn’t want to overwater our plants.

Finally, Kellogg warns about herb blooms: do not allow them to bloom — particularly, basil. Nip these off as soon as they appear, she says. Keep the herbs clipped, neat and trim.

Here are a few links for sites that have more information about growing herb gardens at home.

Never Buy Fresh Herbs Again
Growing Herbs on Pots
Make Your Own Potting Mixes
Would You Pay $150+ for Year-Round Fresh Herbs?

By the way, we ended up just spending under $40 for the herbs, pots, and potting soil. We bought those small herb plants that are typically sold in grocery stores and Farmers’ Markets for $2 to $3 apiece.  Since we didn’t spend a fortune,  I’m really psyched and really looking forward to cooking with our own herbs.

If all goes well, we’ll have meyer lemons next and a bigger place that comes with the tree.

  • http://www.shutterboo.com shutterboo

    I’ve been thinking about doing this myself, some basil and parsley. We’ll see – I have a few more gardening tasks to mark off my list before anything can be planted. I’m too much of an under-achiever to have a yard as big as mine. Boo.

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    You should!! Nothing too big, just a small one like what you said – basil and parsley – will be a great place to start. I was in Whole Foods the other day and they had blueberry and strawberry shrubs and I thought for a second about getting some but stepped away because I know I can’t make that commitment yet!

  • http://www.browneyedbaker.com Michelle {Brown Eyed Baker}

    Thank you for this great post! This is the first year I am planning on growing herbs in pots on my back deck. I am excited, and will definitely bookmark this for tips!

  • http://plantsalive.webs.com/apps/forums/ Chris

    Nice read, I grow my herbs in plastic pots to. Mint is great fresh in with the spuds and you cant beat fresh parsley with some fish. Yum

  • http://www.browneyedbaker.com Michelle {Brown Eyed Baker}

    Oh another question – for the 8-inch pots you used – did you fill halfway with packing peanuts or corks, or just all soil?

  • http://cheftomminchella.blogspot.com/ Chef Tom Minchella

  • http://cheftomminchella.blogspot.com/ Chef Tom Minchella
  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Good luck with the garden, Michelle! Very exciting! We actually filled the entire 8-inch pot with soil. If you choose to use a larger, say 12-inch pot those peanuts will come in handy. For now we’re doing plastic pots, which may not look as good as terra cotta ones but they’re inexpensive and lighter!

    Let me know how it goes!!

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  • http://cookingrookie.blogspot.com/ Cooking Rookie

    This is a really nice post. I first tried growing my own herbs last year, and it was quite ok, except the dill. I did not know about trimming off the blooms. My basil bloomed very nicely, maybe that’s why all the energy went to the blossoms and not to the leaves?
    Thanks for the advice and I’ll look up Kellogs site for more info.

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thanks for stopping by!! I didn’t know about the blooms either until I read Kellog’s post. I’d have to find out the science behind it!

  • http://psychosomaticaddictinsane.wordpress.com iya

    very martha stewart! :) love it!

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  • http://www.youarewhatyoueatorreheat.com katie o.

    well blast, now i have to start one.

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  • Taylordebbie83

    cant wait to grow my own.

  • http://www.KitchenParade.com/ Alanna Kellogg

    Hi Jun – just a note, it’s “Kellogg” not “Kellog” – good luck with your pots, with such an early spring, I’m thinking about starting my herbs early too. And because of a mild winter, some wintered over! 

  • lynn west

    great job i started herbs with seeds and everyday they are popping up. exciting. your advice is great i wasn’t sure what kind of pots to grow them in and leave or replant them in bigger pots. i do have a green thumb, i love to see all results. lots of luck to you and your husband for trying. it’s a great thing to use fresh herbs. happy summer

  • http://www.facebook.com/ting010493 Yu Ting

    This is really a very nice post for me and others who are interested in planting herbs. Since I was a child, I always helped my grandparents to water the herbs plant in my hometown. It is a good post for me to learn more about the gardening. Thank you for this great post!

  • peijurn

    Such an interesting post. :) i like the fact that your blog can be easily understood. i don’t know much about herbs, but through this post i guess i’ve learnt a thing or two about it. maybe i’ll learn to grow my own herbs one day! thank you!

  • Melissa Parks

    This year is the first year I have attempted to grow fresh herbs. I have used the container method an it has worked really well for me. I will definitely try my hand with a garden next year.

  • Kristy

    Hi, Nice post. I was just reading this and noticed the picture on this blog. I’ve planted some herbs but didn’t label them!! Can you tell me what the herb is in your picture?!