Growing herbs is something that I’ve been doing for many years, since way before I began to grow an actual food garden. Whether living on a rural property with acreage, or in an apartment, I’ve always found a way – a few pots on a sunny windowsill, a bucket on my back porch, or planters on my patio. And these days, even though I do grow herbs out in my main outdoor garden area, I continue grow them in containers on my patio.
In fact, my patio is where I grow most of my herbs these days. I do companion plant some herbs among the plants in my vegetable garden, but the main herb garden is located right outside my door. And while growing your own fresh herbs almost feels like a bit of a luxury, in reality, there are lots of reasons why it’s practical, too. I actually love my patio herb garden so much, that I’ve come up with 7 reasons why you might love to have one, too:
1. Proximity. I think the number one reason that I love my patio herb garden so much is that it provides the ability to have fresh herbs on-hand, close to my kitchen. Herbs are packed with flavor and help to make food taste delicious, but the reality is, is that if I have to trek out to the garden to pick some herbs for tonight’s supper, it may or may not actually happen. Life is busy, and we all get tired sometimes, and having those herbs right outside my kitchen door makes it a whole lot more likely that those herbs will make their way into my cooking. And I need to mention, though I am calling this a patio garden, a patio isn’t even necessary. All you need is a porch, a deck, a windowsill, a balcony, or any small area outside your door!
2. It’s frugal. Fresh herbs are expensive at the grocery store, so growing your own just makes good financial sense. A packet of herb seeds and some soil is relatively inexpensive compared to repeatedly buying bunches of herbs from the produce section of the grocery store. A single bunch of basil can cost upwards of $3 at the store, and won’t last but one or two meals. For the cost of some soil and seeds, however, you can grow a whole lot of herbs to last throughout the growing season.
3. You can dry your own herbs. Fresh herbs are amazing, but let’s not forget dried herbs. Herbs in containers can be very productive throughout the growing season, providing the opportunity to harvest ample amounts to dry for the coming cold, winter months. Sure, you can always buy dried herbs, but again, drying your own is cost effective (seriously, have you seen the price of a little jar of dried herbs at the store?!) Also, you know when you dry your own that they are sure to be flavorful. You can’t be sure how old those dried herbs are at the store, but you’ll know for sure that yours are freshly-dried and packed with flavor. What’s a steamy pot of soup or stew in the winter without some dried rosemary or thyme?
4. Health and wellness. Herbs can also be medicinal. You don’t need to restrict yourself to just growing culinary herbs. I grow herbs for lots of reasons – beauty (I often rinse my hair with rosemary and apple cider vinegar), fragrance (hello lavender!), but also for medicinal reasons. I love a cup of chamomile tea before bed to help me relax, and a bit of mint always soothes my tummy. There are lots of medicinal herbs to grow, so if this is something that interests you, do your research, and choose to grow the herbs that are right for you and your family. There are even online courses available these days to help you learn about herbal medicine.
5. Variety. It’s fascinating how many varieties there are to choose from (either in the form of seeds or seedlings). So many more varieties to choose from than you could just buy from the supermarket! I love just being able to walk outside my door and pick some apple mint, Thai basil, or summer savory. Just check out any online seed catalogue and prepared to be amazed at the herbs you can grow.
6. It’s easy. And here’s how easy it is to get started: Start by filling your containers with a good potting soil mix (you’ll want to use potting soil, not garden soil for container gardening.) Plant your seeds or seedlings, and give them a good watering. Place them in a sunny spot and that’s it. Almost any containers will work as long as they have good drainage, and are non-toxic. Some containers, like terra cotta are porous and dry out faster, so will require frequent watering. Other containers, like plastic pots, may retain more moisture so you’ll need to take care not to over-water. I often use wood planters that my husband builds from scrap wood. Choose your containers based on what makes sense in your location.
7. You will feel like a rockstar. OK, so maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you will feel empowered. Even if you aren’t a farmer, or a homesteader, or an accomplished gardener, growing any little bit of your own food makes you feel a little more self-reliant. Dare I say, even a little revolutionary? And if you are currently a farmer, homesteader, or a gardener, having an abundant variety of fresh herbs within easy reach of your kitchen door is certain to make your life easier, and your hard-earned homegrown food taste that much more amazing.