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Do you like to use fresh herbs when you cook?

What if you could just step outside your door and snip some herbs without having to go to the store? 

Have you seen how expensive fresh herbs are at the supermarket by the way? And, who want floppy herbs when they can have fresh ones?

I am often asked whether it is easy to grow herbs in the desert garden and I always answer, “yes!”

container herb garden

Herbs come from mostly arid regions and so they flourish in our climate. They also like sun, which we have plenty of.

One of my favorite ways to grow herbs in containers. In fact, they do extremely well in pots – especially when planted together. Imagine having a variety of herbs growing in a container near your kitchen door?

It’s easy to do and here is how:

1. Place your container in an area that receives at least 6 hours of sun.

Basil, container herb garden

Basil

2.  Fill your container with planting mix, which is sterile, has a light texture and is specially formulated for container plants.  It retains just the right amount of moisture for plants. Potting soil can become soggy.

3. Add a slow-release fertilizer, such as Osmocote, and work it into the top 2-inches of soil.

Oregano

Oregano

4. Plant your herbs. Oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme are easiest to grow when you start out with transplants. Basil grows easily from seed, but can you also use transplants.

Sage

Sage

5. Water deeply. Do not wet the foliage when you water them as they prefer to stay dry.

Thyme

Thyme

6. Herbs like to dry out between watering. To check when they need water, simply stick your finger down to 1-inch deep – if the soil is moist, don’t water. However, if it’s almost dry, then water deeply until water runs out the bottom drainage hole.

container herb garden

Purple Basil (Not the healthiest specimen, but it was the only one they had – it was over-watered at the nursery).

7.  Don’t add any additional fertilizer after planting.  Herbs don’t like extra fertilizer since it causes them to grow larger leaves with fewer oils, which is what gives them their flavor.

I like to place my herbs near my vegetable garden.

Here in the desert, we can grow herbs all year long. However, I do like to dry herbs like basil, which don’t live through our winters.

I encourage you to dip your toes into growing your own herbs. You can find transplants at your favorite nursery, so find a sunny spot and get started!

Click below for my container gardening tips…

Creative Container Gardening Tips

Did you know that one of the great things about living in the Southwest is the fact that we aren’t limited to just growing flowering annuals in our pots – succulents make great alternative container plants!

Last year, I replaced all of my flowering plants with succulents and I haven’t looked back.  They look great and take very minimal care, which fits into my busy life perfectly.

Recently, I visited the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and saw some great examples of potted succulents, which I thought I’d share with you…

Succulents in pot, Victoria Agave 'Compacta'

Succulents in pot, Victoria Agave ‘Compacta’

Succulents in pot, Agave parryi 'truncata'

Succulents in pot, Agave parryi ‘truncata’

Succulents in pot, Mexican Fence Post (Pachycereus marginatus)

Succulents in pot, Mexican Fence Post (Pachycereus marginatus)

A trio of variegated agave

A trio of variegated agave

Succulents in pot, 'Blue Elf' Aloe

Succulents in pot, ‘Blue Elf’ Aloe

As you can see, there are so many options when you decide to use succulents in containers.

Whether you live near the Desert Botanical Garden or even if you don’t – you can visit your local botanical garden for some alternative ideas for filling your containers.

Growing succulents in pot is easy – the most important thing is that they are well-drained, so it’s important to use a planting mix specially formulated for succulents.

Do you have any succulents growing in pots?

Lately, I have been collecting toilet paper rolls.  Now I know that may sound a bit weird to some of you, but I needed them for my garden.

So how on earth can toilet paper rolls help you in the garden?

Well, they are an inexpensive, environmentally friendly tool in which to start seeds indoors.

bush beans, marigolds, Kentucky beans, cucumbers, sugar snap peas and spinach

From upper right – bush beans, marigolds, Kentucky beans, cucumbers, sugar snap peas and spinach.

I thought this would be a good project to do with the kids, so we gathered our seeds.

toilet paper rolls

We cut each toilet paper roll in half (you can use paper towel rolls and cut them into thirds for this too.)

toilet paper rolls

We used a planting mix that had slow-release fertilizer already included and also had water-holding granules. I advise wetting the soil before adding it to your toilet paper rolls.

toilet paper rolls

Now that we had everything, we were ready to start. The kids used tablespoons to ‘spoon’ the planting mix into each tube.

toilet paper rolls

Then we lightly pressed down the planting mix and added more.

toilet paper rolls

Now it was time to plant.

toilet paper rolls

Then we used a spray bottle filled with water to thoroughly water each planted seed.

Now we had to create a ‘mini-greenhouse’ effect by covering our toilet paper roll with clear plastic wrap with some holes in the top.  Then we placed them on top of the refrigerator, where it was warm enough to help them germinate.

 
 
 

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Every day, we checked the moisture of each toilet paper roll and added more water if necessary.

Once the seedlings germinated, we removed the plastic wrap permanently and placed our seedlings by our bright, sunny kitchen window.

We are keeping the soil moist, but not soggy.

Soon, we will be able to plant our seedlings (with their toilet paper rolls) in the vegetable garden.  The cardboard from the toilet paper rolls will disintegrate into the soil.

Of course, you can always use the ready-made plastic seeding trays, but I must admit that I like this method better 🙂

**Are you new to vegetable gardening in the desert?  We are fortunate that we can grow a large variety of vegetables, as well as fruit.  I invite you to click the ‘Shop’ tab where you’ll find some great information on growing vegetables.