After giving my balcony herb garden to my sister when I moved, I was missing my fragrant doorstep greenery that had taken up permanent residence in front of the battered french doors five years ago. They looked pretty unassuming (not really looking like they were growing much yet slowly but surely getting fuller) but definitely made my dishes tastier + more flavourful. I promptly set about making herb garden 2.0 + lets just say that the first food shop in my new place was pretty herb-heavy as I picked up a few pots from the central aisles of the supermarket. As I’ve said before on my instagram many times before, supermarkets selling any types of plants (including things like herbs) are VERY hit + miss.
I didn’t get a chance to visit a nursery before lockdown happened to pick up more ‘niche’ varieties of my usual plants I like to have a steady supply of; lemon thyme, spearmint + chocolate mint plus the more readily available sage + chives which aren’t always in supermarkets but I am very glad I got the basics, albeit slightly bedraggled from supermarket shelves.
As you can see from the photo above, shop bought potted herbs are usually completely root-bound + are likely to have a clump of roots growing through the drainage holes. It’s a good idea to remove the pot + loosen these roots out, checking to see that there is no rot. These plants can be pretty saturated with water in stores so it’s important to check the roots aren’t suffering. If there are areas of rot, prune the roots back until they are all healthy. These initial steps will help the plants to adapt + grow into their new environment more easily than if the plant is just plonked in the soil with compacted (+/or rotted) roots.
I prepped a container with potting mix + potted parsley, coriander + rosemary together with plenty of room for growth:
Next, I have some basil that I will keep on my kitchen windowsill. Something that’s worth mentioning is that I generally try to keep my houseplants away from any herbs or ‘outdoor’ plants I am growing on indoors so there is less possibility of pests. I think I might have to move all my houseplants here + turn my sill into a herb/plant/seedling station for the next few months as it’s the first year I don’t have a greenhouse to keep this kind of stuff! I’ve got a few tomato plants that won’t cope with the cold nights just yet + some seeds to sow. We’ll see… I always like to reserve the weekend for plant-y jobs like this.
As the slide above shows, this process also works with cut (not only potted) herbs — the sage + mint were from bunches I got at a local farm shop. I popped them in a glass of water (changing the water every few days if you remember) + when rooted, I’ll plant up in a little pot. Side note…Mint is a fast grower that spreads so using a container is a great option to keep things neat if you don’t have much outdoor space or don’t want it to take over. Also, a word of warning — check for bugs on the cuttings especially if they have been outside + you are bringing them indoors — caterpillars in particular can hide in the leaves so you don’t want them inside!
Here is the planter five weeks after putting it together — it’s flourished into a lovely full pot + has brightened up my doorstep!
I thought I’d also show my two tomato plants I have this year that I am about to repot; both trailing varieties this season as I’m quite low on pots but have two hanging baskets I can free up for these. I have only ever grown my tomatoes in Nan’s greenhouse so I’m not sure how these will fare outside, even when the weather gets warmer. Worth a try anyway — they are red tumbling toms + yellow tumbling toms:
To end this post, I wanted to share a parcel that arrived from the Netherlands from Farmer Gracy yesterday. I picked up some Caladium bulbs as I really enjoyed growing them last year, so chose three this time around; ‘Carolyn Whorton‘, ‘Florida Moonlight‘ + ‘Cranberry Star‘. I also got some white ranunculus bulbs as I haven’t grown these before but I LOVE the form their blooms + a variety of Anenome called ‘mistral tigre’ which is exclusive to Farmer Gracy that looked lovely!
Hope you enjoyed seeing what I have been up to on my outdoor potting table this week + that it has encouraged you to make use of any herbs you might have hanging around in your kitchen + plant them up! I’ll share updates of my new bulbs when they are planted.
Hope you are all staying safe —