by Lisa Watters-Lain, Arizona’s garden gal
Growing herbs is a favorite for their elegant beauty and culinary uses in my family kitchen. Even with acres of property and gardens galore, it’s so lovely to step outside my door and pick a handful of fresh herbs from a beautiful container garden.
Besides, it’s often dark when I’m preparing dinner after working a day at Watters Garden Center. Who wants to root around a garden with a headlamp on for fresh herbs? With the flip of a switch, my porch light allows me to snip fresh herbs from my containers right out the back door.
Plants Per Container — You can grow as many types of herbs in one container as you like. For a more finished designer style, try a kind of herb per pot and then group these pots together. I’m a big fan of crowded, bountiful container gardens. Different herbs can be packed into a single container, and I find they have a way of adapting to accommodate each other. This is especially true of those herbs cut more often.
Container Garden Design — Don’t be shy about using herbs as decorative elements in any container garden. They add fragrance, look fantastic and provide a great texture to any container filled with annual or perennial flowers.
Choosing a Container — Herbs can be grown in anything as long as it has drainage at the bottom of the container. Be careful with culinary herbs, and avoid treated lumber or tar-lined clay pots. These non-organic toxins can be absorbed by herbs and be unknowingly consumed at the table. I prefer brightly glazed clay pots for a healthy Mediterranean look and feel.
When it comes to growing herbs in containers, bigger really is better. The more soil a container holds, the more roots a plant can grow, and the sweeter the herbs produced. The smaller the container, the less soil there is, resulting in a lower margin of error when it comes to watering.
To Grow the Best Herbs
Light — Most herbs need at least six hours of sun a day. As small containers can bake on hot summer days, small pots of herbs thrive under midday shade, at least until the monsoon rains arrive in July.
Soil — Make sure containers have at least one drain hole at the bottom. Fill with Watters Potting Soil, a unique blend of soil perfect for better growth in containers. Fill, plant and watch them grow. Enough said.
Herbal Plant Food — Herbs are finicky when it comes to food. Some don’t like much food at all, and others will flat out croak when overfed. At weekly intervals, add Watters Flower Power to your water and prepare for the most amazing harvests of herbs. It really makes a difference for blooming herbs like rosemary and lavender, and it coaches fragrances and oils out of nonbloomers.
Herbal Harvest — The rule of thumb is the more you pick, the more you’ll get. You really do want to pinch most herbs back to make them bushier and well-formed.
My favorite department at the garden center is the organic herb section. That’s probably the reason we have the largest selection of herbs in Northern Arizona! My passion equals too many herbs to name here, but if you have a favorite, we most likely have it, and now through June is the best season to plant herbs in your own container.
Until the next issue, I’ll be helping local gardens grow herbs here at Watters Garden Center.
Lisa Watters-Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Road in Prescott, or contacted through www.WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter.