I beg your pardon? I didn’t promise you a herb garden.
But I did promise you fresh cut herbs from my window box.
A window herb garden is a great place to get your green fingers tingling. It’s relatively low maintenance and really it’s a microcosm of self-sufficiency!
What to grow?
First, grab a pen and a piece of paper and list down all of the herbs you use on a regular basis followed by herbs you’d try more often, if you had them readily available
Secondly I recommend dividing this list into two sections – one with the ‘Mediterranean’ herbs, such as oregano and rosemary (they like lots of sun and dry conditions), and then a section with herbs that prefer more water and can manage with shadier conditions (such as parsley).
Arranging your plants
Providing that you have space, I’d suggest having one window box for each herb type so that you can plant them separately. If you don’t have the space, then ensure that you’re careful with the watering so that the less thirsty herbs don’t get too wet.
Although you can grow from seed, I would advise getting small plants of your herb selection either from a garden centre, or off of the web. When selecting, keep in mind your window box sizes and don't get carried away with the quantity of plants, because they’ll need space around them to grow.
Once you’ve got the plants at home, check them over and have a play around with the layout before you actually start planting the container. You should aim to have larger plants at the back so they don’t create too much shade; anything that trails should be at the front or sides.
Providing that you're happy with your arrangement, place a thin layer of potting compost at the base of the box. The aim here is that the plants will all be level, just under the edge of the container after you have finished planting, so add the compost keeping this in mind.
Take each plant in turn out of its container and place it in the planting box. NB. If you’ve chosen mint or lemon balm in your selection then leave them in the original pot when planting, as they can both run amok to the disadvantage of the other herbs.
Once you have placed all of the plants fill any gaps in between with potting compost, ensuring to push it down firmly around each plant to remove any air gaps. Then water well, finally adding a dry layer of potting compost on the top.
At this stage you can add a mulch of mini bark chips or gravel. This will help with keeping the soil cool and also help cut down on the watering.
Keeping them coming!
Your herb garden will stay productive and keep looking good if you regularly use the herbs. Bear in mind that a window box in a sunny position for any length of time will probably need watering every day; and that regularly cropped herbs will appreciate some liquid feed occasionally.
Obviously, during autumn and winter you should cut back on the watering so that the herbs do not suffer with ‘wet feet’. Hardy perennials (such as thyme and rosemary) will survive, but the more tender varieties (for example basil) will die when the weather turns colder and you can remove them.
Spring has sprung
In the spring the window box will need replanting. The perennial plants that have become too big can be split but the annuals and biennials need to be removed and replaced. You will also require new, fresh compost. Any mint that you had in pots should be divided or given a bigger pot for it to continue to grow.