wannabe_gardener
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Newbie here! How to get most out of herb garden?

Hello everyone,

I am a newbie here with strong interest in growing my own herb gerden. I am looking to start on a small scale (to see how it goes before spending too much and failing). I want to grow some herbs which grow fast (relatively), and which produce enough that I can use them in my kitchen.

My preference would be to start with container plants because I can then move them in and out depending on weather outside.

Also, not sure if it matters or not, but I live in Houston!

Appreciate your inputs!

puzzlejunky
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Re: Newbie here! How to get most out of herb garden?

Chives are pretty easy and hardy. If you like tea I've had a lot of luck with lemon balm. Basil germinates pretty easily...but it looks like lots of folks here are having problems with it. Nothing beats homemade pesto sauce though!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Newbie here! How to get most out of herb garden?

remember that wannabe is in Houston. Way different climate from Penna and actually kind of difficult for herbs. Lots of herbs do fine with hot and dry, but Houston is warm and humid with 50 " of rain a year.

Basil is a good one for that climate and very easy to grow in containers. The trouble people have been having with it is a disease called basil downy mildew, relatively newly imported fungal disease. Wannabe, you should ask around, like at garden stores, see if people in your area have been having trouble with it. If so, focus on some of the more resistant varieties like red and purple basils, lemon and lime basil, spice basil.

Other possibilities include Mexican tarragon (also called Mexican mint marigold), Mexican oregano which is actually native to TX and an ingredient in a classic TX chili, mints, and chives, All would be fine in containers, just be sure your container mix is very well draining -- consider mixing potting soil with sand or cactus mix to improve drainage.
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wannabe_gardener
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Re: Newbie here! How to get most out of herb garden?

Thanks for your responses guys.
rainbowgardener wrote:remember that wannabe is in Houston. Way different climate from Penna and actually kind of difficult for herbs. Lots of herbs do fine with hot and dry, but Houston is warm and humid with 50 " of rain a year.

Basil is a good one for that climate and very easy to grow in containers. The trouble people have been having with it is a disease called basil downy mildew, relatively newly imported fungal disease. Wannabe, you should ask around, like at garden stores, see if people in your area have been having trouble with it. If so, focus on some of the more resistant varieties like red and purple basils, lemon and lime basil, spice basil.

Other possibilities include Mexican tarragon (also called Mexican mint marigold), Mexican oregano which is actually native to TX and an ingredient in a classic TX chili, mints, and chives, All would be fine in containers, just be sure your container mix is very well draining -- consider mixing potting soil with sand or cactus mix to improve drainage.
I was thinking of basil after reading how easy it is but now you have got me scared. I will definitely look into oregano and tarragon.

At the risk of sounding stupid, I have got some questions:
a) Should I start from the seeds or the plants (that you buy from stores like ACE or Lowes etc.)?
b) When you say well draining, do you mean it should have a tiny hole at the base? You say potting soil with sand.. what type of sand is that? Where can I get it?

imafan26
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Re: Newbie here! How to get most out of herb garden?

Welcome.

Go for the herbs you like the most. Most herbs do well in containers. Some, like mint are invasive and are best contained.
Some herbs are very slow from seed so they are best from starts. Many can be propagated from cuttings as well.

Perennial herbs are rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, Mexican tarragon ( is a hot weather substitute for French tarragon), mints like a richer soil and more even watering. They will do better in partial shade. Onions and garlic need to be planted in the fall and you will probably need southern varieties. Chives, green onions, basil,and parsley can be grown in full sun to part shade depending on the time of the year.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Susan W
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Re: Newbie here! How to get most out of herb garden?

Good advise above.
Obvious is what do you like?!
By now, buy starts from a garden center.
You will have winners and losers, nature of the game. Don't give up!

Containers are great for herbs. I sell fresh cut, micro business at a farmers market, have 120+ containers, large. The larger the container the better in width and depth. This should be self explanatory to buffer moisture and temps. I may have more rain than you (55" or so), but chillier winters.
A mixed container is functional and attractive. This would be in a 14 -16". Say Oregano, thyme and chives. 12" a bit small for that combo. Keep basil separate and if it shows the cooties, can be ripped out. I'm trying a few from seed, again, and in checking looks like some bad cooties. Crap! With the smaller (12") can move more easily to more or less sun. It takes time to figure who likes what.
As I am in town, mess with a mix of different bags of what's available. I use the same mix and freshening for all of them and various flowers.
See what's at the garden center. Play with different plants! In your climate can easily do both marjoram and lemon verbena. Check them out!
Have fun!
Susan

jessica_alinari
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Re: Newbie here! How to get most out of herb garden?

I also prefer to grow herbs in containers – it's easier, faster and you'll have a year round fresh supply of various herbs. My advice is to start with some easy to grow, trainer herbs like parsley and basil. When you gain experience, play with different plants as Susan W suggests.
Herbs as a whole are unpretentious and easy to care for. However, they are very vulnerable to drought stress (especially if grown in a container) and to full sun. This means that you should be careful where you position the herb container and how often you water it.
Here is a link to an article that I believe would be very useful for you https://www.spundge.com/story/52392/

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Newbie here! How to get most out of herb garden?

Umm, mostly agree, Jessica. But you didn't say where you are located and it makes a difference. In a TX type climate, maybe you have to be careful about drought and full sun. In my climate it depends on the herb. Soft leaves like basil would be vulnerable to drying out. All the Mediterranean herbs like oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary seem to thrive on lots of sun and very little water.
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imafan26
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Re: Newbie here! How to get most out of herb garden?

That is kind of the good things about herbs in containers. You should group your plants according to sun and watering needs, and you can move them around until you find the perfect place for them.

As a rule gray or blue gray leaves or thick leaves are require less water and like a lot of sun. Sage, rosemary, lavender, and thyme fall into this category. They need well drained soil and like to be almost dry before watering again

Mint, basil, parsley, chives like a richer soil, with fertilizer. The soft leaf herbs like to be evenly moist and do better in full sun to partial shade.

If you have deluges you can bring the pots that don't like much water under cover. The tender ones can be brought indoors if it gets too cold.

I have planted multiple herbs in containers but most of them do better in their own pots. You need a fairly large and wide container to do multiple herbs and they are harder to move. You also have to be careful because some herbs like the mints are aggressive and will take over a container.

I have Russian sage (ornamental) and marjoram in a 20 inch pot, a Jamaican oregano in another, and my third pot cracked and I ended up getting a smaller pot. 14 inch terra cotta. That one has two lavenders in it. One is provence, an edible lavindin and the other is lavender multifida which is a landscape lavender that will bloom nearly year round for me. I have these in pots because the herb garden has soggy soil that floods when it rains and they would all rot in the ground. Even in these large pots, the herbs will be smaller than their counterparts in the garden because they have extensive root systems.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Gary350
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Re: Newbie here! How to get most out of herb garden?

I have given up on pots, the uneven soil moisture and uneven soil temperature is a problem for the roots. Roots like to be in a cool place with a stable temperature that says cool, much cooler than the summer air. The plant above the soil does better in a higher tempeature.

Decide what herbs you want in the kitchen then figure out which ones like hot, dry desert conditions. I live in Phoenix my soil is 50% child play sand and 50% potting soil. My irrigation sytems give my plants 1 pint of water every day. I have Oregano, Thyme, Marjarom in full sun all day. I have Basil on the north side of a large bush so it gets a lot of shade.

imafan26
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Re: Newbie here! How to get most out of herb garden?

Actually that is why I don't plant much in very small containers. Most of my single herbs are in 1-2 gallon pots. The herbs that are larger are in 20 inch pots.

I get up to the 90's but rarely 100. Grouping pots together and using the ones with good foliage cover in summer helps to shade and cool the pots. I will double pot some of them to conserve more water in the summer and also to keep the pot and the roots cooler. Some plants will be moved into more shade in summer.

You will probably have to water them more in the summer heat and in windy weather.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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