Fresh herbs close to the kitchen door make for a sure-fire way to quickly and economically add zesty, bright flavors to your meals. If you are lucky enough to have a small sunny patch within steps of your entryway, make a list of the herbs your family uses the most, plus one or two that are outside of your typical culinary expertise. Be a little daring with these newcomers. Who knows, lemon balm may become a new favorite for your Grandfather Herb(ert).
If that extra 4-foot square patch eludes you, look around to see what kind of containers you might already have available that will work with the growth habits of the herbs you have chosen. Thyme and oregano cascade. What about putting them in with hanging baskets that have similiar sun requirements? A window box installed outside your kitchen window makes for quick snipping and looks beautiful. Terra cotta pots grouped together can fit the needs of a myriad of fresh herbs. Tall plants like rosemary and sage need larger pots. Large, 48-oz size soup broth cans wrapped in burlap (or scraps of fabric from the shirt with the tear in the sleeve) would work–even Grandfather Herb’s old boot. No boots used around gasoline, oil or other toxic chemicals need apply. Chives and parsley have a more shallow root system. Grow them in that low basket (lined with a plastic bag) you were ready to discard. The high-low look adds a distinctive tiered display to your potted herbs. Whatever found object you choose, just be sure to put a drainage hole or two in the bottom, if not already there by design or accident.
A strawberry pot is ideal for a one-container display with a tweak for easy watering success. Before filling the pot with dirt or any kind of plants, set a piece of plastic pipe or the empty tube from a roll of wrapping paper in the middle of the pot. The length needs to be taller than the strawberry pot you have chosen. Holding the tube steady, fill around with potting mix as far as the first set of holes on the sides of the pot. Pot herbs that trail, like thyme or oregano. Save the tall-growing herbs like basil or sage for the top. Continue filling with potting mix, planting as you reach each level. Before planting herbs in the top level, fill the tube with gravel or very small stones to the same level as the dirt. Gently remove the tubing, leaving the core of gravel in place. Plant the remaining tall herbs you have chosen around the gravel. The gravel provides a place for the water to reach the lower plants, keeping them from drying out, while assuring that the top level does not become water-logged.
Use the herbs you have grown to perk up a meal that was a bit on the ho-hum side. Your family will love the change of pace, as will your budget.