Alumni Programs

The NEW Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme

Container Herb Gardening for the Kitchen

by Lisa Waud '05

You don't need a whole lot of space to grow a kitchen container garden. While patios and balconies provide more than enough room, even a windowsill in a shoebox apartment has garden potential.

Pot and Box graphicThe basics of container gardening are the same as growing acres of crops. Plants need light, water and nutrients and can certainly find them in a properly planned flowerpot or window box container itself can be nearly anything that holds soil, as long as there are drainage holes in the bottom. The soil, usually sold as “potting mix,“ will provide stability with sufficient water movement. With most herbs, the best growth is seen in full sun conditions, which can be achieved in a sunny window with supplemental plant lights.

Fertilizers are a helpful addition to the nutrients the plant takes from the soil and water. Fish and seaweed emulsions are a natural option (and thankfully, are available in less odorous formulas).

Your particular watering and fertilizing schedule will depend on your plant and potting choices and lighting conditions. Be sure not to over water, as is common, and is not a preferred growing condition for herbs. A general rule is to stick your finger into the soil to the first knuckle; if it's moist, no need to water.

Your herbs will appreciate a dose of natural fertilizer every other week, slowing to once a month near the end of summer's growing season. Once the growing season does come to a close, some herbs can over-winter in their pots, and some should come in. Parsley is a biennial and lives in the ground for two years. Sage is unreliable, usually over-wintering outdoors. Rosemary is a great herb to bring inside for the colder seasons, when it can add summer flavor to winter dishes. Thyme is readily reliable—even in my native state of Michigan—and can be harvested for cooking nearly year-round.

These container-friendly herbs are delicious to have on hand near the kitchen. Parsley is a ubiquitous herb, and refreshing when added to salad greens, soup stock or summer-friendly tabouli with garden-fresh tomatoes. Sage is a delightful fried garnish and a classic flavor with roasted chicken. Rosemary is a perfect herb with potatoes done any way, infused in olive oil, and for seasoning red meats. Thyme is the little big herb—finishing most dishes wonderfully, especially chicken, and particularly a perfect chicken soup.

Let's get growing, Greeners!

Evergreen Entrepreneur Lisa Waud is the owner of Pot and Box in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She blogs at Green Thumb Black Dog.