Herbs are very easy to grow from seeds or from cuttings; they require little maintenance and you can easily grow them in pots and various containers. The different herb seeds can be planted together in a bigger hanging basket or window box, but make sure that you grow the invasive species like mint and lemon balm in separate pots. You can have a herb garden on your patio or inside on the windowsill too. Annual herbs are most suited for container growing, as these herbs are tender, and the herb seeds need quite warm climate to germinate successfully. These are my basil seedlings, germinated in a couple of days in the greenhouse.
You can plant your herbs in anything from hanging baskets to window boxes, old buckets, large tin containers or even an old unused wheelbarrow would make a stunning display. I love a wooden box for my herbs, it is easily made and looks great. Whatever you have available can be used really just make sure that the container holds enough compost for the plants; if you have only a small space for small pots it’s not all lost you will just have to feed your herbs a little bit. Annual herbs can be planted into a small, 9 cm pot, it is enough to nurture 4-7 basil or coriander plants. For perennial herbs I would suggest a 15 – 17 cm pot at least. Perennials will be fine to grow outside once they are established. Make sure your container has drainage holes at the bottom, if not you can just drill a few or make them with a nail and hammer. Terracotta pots tend to dry out quicker in the summer and it is advised that you line them with a plastic sheet on their side.
Use ordinary peat free compost. It is better as there is no peat naturally in the soil so the plants will be happier in soil based compost in the long run. After planting the compost has enough nutrients for the plants for at least three months, after that period you can feed your annual herbs but only once a month as too much nitrogen will result in less taste. And perennial herbs don’t really need feeding at all as most of them from the mediterranian where there is plenty of sunshine and not so much nutrients. They will thrive on poor soil and in drier conditions.
Make sure you don’t overwater the herbs, it is better little and often than once a week with lots of water. If you planting a big herb display container place the larger herbs in the middle, sage, rosemary and lavender are large, and the smaller ones like basil and oregano, on the edges of the container.
Annual herbs need to be sown every spring, you can start as early as April and if you use a lot you can sow them every three weeks. Herbs are a cut and come again crop, for example 2 small pots of basil can be used for over two months, of course it all depends how much you use yourself. And you can sow some annuals late as July.
Perennial herbs can be started from seeds too in early spring, then you will be able to use them in the same year but you will be able to harvest more of the perennials the second year. You can pot the perennials on as they grow but if space is limited just cut them back every autumn and take them out the pots and divide them, add more comost to the pot and plant the better looking half of the plant back. This will make sure that you can have your perennial herbs in containers for years. I do ths with thyme for example, just cut the whole plant in half and put it back in the same pot with some fresh compost.