Spice up Your Container Gardens with Herbs.

Once the calendar inches into the month of October, it’s time to think about gardening again. Many people like to grow vegetables during the winter months on the Treasure Coast – in my mind, October 15th is the official start date of the gardening season.

My vegetable gardening tends more towards herbs, grown in containers as the sandy soil in my garden does not support herbs easily and I can keep the container near the kitchen for a quick snip of flavor while I am cooking.

The simple recipe for herb containers includes finding a large (14″ minimum) terracotta or plastic container (be sure there is a hole in the bottom) place pots on a partially sunny porch. Then fill pot to 4-5 inches from the top with organic potting soil, watering soil in to settle it. Plant with herbs and fill to about 1/2 inch from the top with potting soil. Slow release fertilizer may be added if there is none in the potting soil. Water daily if temperatures are above 80 degrees. Wait until plants double in size to harvest.

Now it’s time to select some plants. Fresh herb plants are appearing in the big box stores and garden centers. I grow what I like to eat. My favorites are:

Basil: I always have a pot of Basil around, my preference is basic Sweet Basil with the large green leaf. It can be called Genovese or Napletano. I also like Greek Columnar Basil but it can be difficult to find. Basil lasts about 3-4 months in a container so I replace mine quarterly.

Spice up Your Container Gardens with Herbs.

Spice up Your Container Gardens with Herbs.

Bay Leaf: My first attempt with Bay Leaf failed, I planted it in the ground and it did not flourish. I bought two more and they have happily provided Bay Leaf from their perch in a terracotta pot. Bay Leaf plants can be difficult to find in our area so buy them online. Be careful to buy the culinary Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilis) – there are other types used for decorative purposes and not to eat.

Dill: Dill is a favorite for use in soups or with sauteed vegetables or fish. A tall, ferny plant this is a cool season plant and will go to seed in the late spring. The seeds are a bonus and can be used in breads or saved to grow more Dill next fall.

Parsley: I prefer Italian Parsley (flat leaf) for flavor, Curly Parsley can be easily grown here as well. This is a cool season plant and will grow here from October until late spring.

Spice up Your Container Gardens with Herbs.

Spice up Your Container Gardens with Herbs.

Rosemary: Rosemary lasts year round in a pot. Eventually, it needs replacement – I consider this maintenance as we eat a lot of Rosemary. I like the flavor of the upright plants rather than the creepers.

Thyme: Thyme is another cool season herb. I may have managed to get it to live through a whole year once, but this requires a lot of attention in the summer. My attention tends to wane as the humidity rises. I prefer the Lemon Thyme to German for the flavor.

My terracotta herb containers are a work in progress. I will have all of the above herbs and am planning to try Tarragon and Chives this year. Here are my containers for the past couple of years.

The container on the left has Creeping Rosemary and Lemon Thyme in the front, Parsley and Basil in back. The one on the right has Basil, Dill, and Rosemary  in the back and Thyme in front. (see photos above)

Amelia Grant

A native of Atlanta, Georgia and extraordinarily well seasoned Landscape Architect/Designer/Writer. I began bouncing around South Florida in the late 1980’s selecting and buying plants for Shopping Mall Interiors I had designed.
Eventually my college roommate landed in Hobe Sound and I came to visit and fell in love with the Treasure Coast. My husband was on the verge of retiring from the practice of Architecture so we came down, bought a house near the Indian River and left the big city’s cold and the traffic far behind.
The blog began as an effort to fill what I considered a vacuum in good gardening information for the Treasure Coast. The Shrub Queen name is a nod to a long standing joke, my husband has called me this for years after one too many Architects asked me to “shrub something up”.


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  • Posted 8 years ago

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