Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Growing Herbs: Part 1

I've been thinking for awhile about growing fresh herbs at home. We don't have any in ground area to plant, so it had to be something other than that. I've seen a ton of different cool ideas on Pinterest....herbs in mason jars, hanging upside down, herbs in a pallet.... Let me start by saying, I have never gardened or kept a plant alive in my LIFE. It's just not something I grew up knowing how to do. Google searches about herbs provided WAY too much information, and it was kind of overwhelming. I was finally feeling motivated after reading this post from Bloom Where You Are Planted, and also this one from Thy Hand Hath Provided. Thanks for giving me the extra push to get this project started! If Jane from Thy Hand can grow every fruit/veggie/herb that they eat, I can certainly grow a few herbs/fruits/veggies as well!

I decided to start with herbs. I went down to Home Depot today and picked the brain of this very nice lady (who talked a little too much, so much that now I'm going to get a dwarf citrus tree, tomatoes and strawberries too). She also gave me the best idea that did not involve carpentry work on the part of my hubby. I'm going to grow herbs in rain gutters mounted to the fence on my patio...Perfect!

The rain gutters come in ten foot long pieces (only $6.49 each). We are going to get two, and Adrian is going to cut them in half. We will have four, 5 foot planters on the fence. Our patio is on the east side of our condo building, which is exactly where it should be. The herbs need 6-8 hours of morning sun. I didn't purchase the rain gutters today because they won't cut them at the store, and I couldn't fit them in the car with the kids etc. That's okay though, because I purchased everything else.

Herb Seeds:
(I wanted everything organic but went to 3 stores and had to settle for non-organic on two)
$2.59 Italian Flat Leaf Parsley  (I never knew there were so many varieties!)
$1.59 Lavender
$1.59 Rosemary (Will be grown in a pot separate from my rain gutter- gets up to 6ft high!)
$1.99 Thyme
$1.99 Cilantro
$1.99 Oregano
$1.99 Basil (the regular kind, there's a million types of this too!)

$9.94 2 (1.5 cubic ft) large bags All Natural Potting Soil (I wanted Organic, but it was like 5 times the price...)
$4.29 (36 count) Peat Pellet Greenhouse
$12.98 2 (10 ft) rain gutters

TOTAL: $40.94

I started out by reading everything on the back of the packets. Based on where we live, we can start planting in Feb/March (NOW!). I made a chart with all of the information on the back of the seed packages. Much easier seeing all the info in once place. The information on the chart helped me to draw out the "design" of where I will plant what, and how many to plant of each.

This way I can maximize the planting space of my rain gutters, and make sure all of the plants are evenly spaced according to their directions. Also, I want to leave enough height room for each to grow.

Then, I drew out a map of how I will plant them. (I am a visual person, can you tell?) I tried at first to do the calculations in my head, but my lack of mom brain kicked in...I really couldn't wrap my head around it without drawing the map to scale. I'm not a good artist, as you can tell, but this helped a lot.

The fence pn my patio is 6 feet high, and I don't really want the herbs growing any higher than the fence. The rain gutters are 5 feet long each, so I will put two on each section of the fence. The first spaced 2 feet above the ground, and the next 2 feet above that. I want the most basil because I really want to make pesto, and that takes A LOT OF basil.

Going from left to right:
6 pods of BASIL starting at 5", and spaced 10" apart-- (5", 15", 25", 35", 45", 55")
4 pods of CILANTRO starting at 6" and spaced 6" apart-- (6", 12", 18", 24").
2 pods of PARSLEY starting at 36" and 12" apart-- (36", 48")
3 pods of OREGANO starting at 6" and 12" apart-- (6", 18", 30")
3 pods of THYME starting at 36" and spaced 8" apart-- (38", 44", 52")
3 pods of LAVENDER starting at 12" and spaced 28" apart-- (12", 30", 48")

The Rosemary will go in a pot, this one can practically turn into a tree- 6" high!

It all sounds pretty simple, but a lot of thought went into where to plant each, how much, and how to space them based- height and width.

Then I opened up the mini greenhouse, and labeled it based on how many pods of each herb I will need. Being an inexperienced gardener, I don't think I will be able to tell them apart at the next stage. I made a few extra of a couple so I can give them to my Mom.

The box has 6 pods across. I put a number on each tag of how many pods there are that specific herb. You can see some rows have only (3), like Thyme. There is also a label on the other side of the box for the other half of the row.

Then, I followed the directions on the box to "plump up" the pods. I poured just over 5 cups of warm water into the tray. It's hard to see in this picture, but it's filled with water.

Then, slowly the pods plumped up!

Until they had absorbed all the water, and looked like this. How cool! Isabel loved watching them "grow".

Next, we (followed more directions) "Gently pull back netting on top of pellets. Fluff and level surface peat. Sow 2-3 seeds per pellet. Cover lightly with peat." Isabel loved this part!

The oregano was probably the hardest for her...Look how small the seeds are! (That's a snack size ziploc bag.)

I was saying "look up here" and putting my hand above the camera, so she did the same thing. She was getting tired.

We placed them in a warm location away from direct sunlight.

That's it for now....we just wait! Could be a couple weeks for the next steps. While I wait for these to grow, I am going to do some more research on growing fruits and veggies.

I forgot to mention the yummy dinner Adrian made tonight! All it was missing was FRESH BASIL!


  1. You are off to an incredible start!! I love your organization!! I must note, however, that we don't grow *every* fruit and vegetable we eat- almost, but not quite, and that is changing slightly (I write about it today). :-)

  2. Growing herbs is quite challenging, particularly if you’re not a gardener. But if you carefully follow all the directions in planting those herbs that you bought, I’m pretty sure it’ll all turn out great. All you have to do is take care of them and wait for them to grow. There’s nothing more exciting than harvesting your own herbs from your garden. I’m looking forward to seeing your herbs ready for harvest.

    >cEthan Frye


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