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Kitchen Gardening

Grow Herbs in Containers for the Winter

Fall is the time of year that I start getting concerned for my basil.

  • Larger pots allow you to add several plants. Try the same plant but in different varieties such as basil and cinnamon basil or a lemon thyme and wooly thyme.   Photo by Art Aspirations under the Creative Commons License 2.0.
  • Use your imagination when thinking about containers.   Photo by Tristan F under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

Fall is the time of year that I start getting concerned for my basil. I’m pretty lousy at calculating how much longer I’ll be able to harvest before the frost nails it. Mother Nature has her own calendar no matter where we mark our frost dates.

So, in the fall I set up a special area under the overhang on our back porch. I plant my favorite herbs and some cool weather flowers in pots varying from very large to rather small (6″). I plant parsely, basil, thyme, rosemary, terragon,and chives.

Herbs are especially suited for containers although they will appreciate a little treat every once in a while in the form of fertilizer. If your potting mix is high in organic matter, you won’t have to add much, but if you can get your hands on some worm castings it would be the ultimate vitamin for any container-grown plant.

My porch gets all day sun yet the overhang protects the plants from the type of cold snap that would cut them off at the knees. Some of these plants won’t make it the entire winter, but I’m okay with that. Surprisingly many of these herbs actually do survive it since I live in a fairly mild-winter area lows are 50s – 60s in the day with 30s overnight.

California’s pitiful winter display may make you laugh but I swear to you we even see snow. My point is that no matter what zone you live in, by creating a small kitchen garden in pots under a covered porch you can have fresh herbs longer than if you hadn’t. Closer to Christmas time when the temps really dip, I bring as many as a can indoors into a sunny window. I’m nothing if not a die-hard.

If you can’t find any small herbs still available for purchase locally, take a few cuttings from the plants you already have growing in your garden. For instance, it’s especially easy to propagate basil from cuttings. If you don’t have many herbs already growing, ask for some slips (cuttings) from your neighbors or friends. Fall is a great time to try your hand at indoor gardening.

Read more about growing herbs…

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