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7-5-13 punch of your patioDo you have a boring patio? Are you a foodie? If you answered yes to both questions then you might want to consider punching up that lackluster patio with a few of your favorite herbs. By growing your own container herbs, you will not only bring life to your outdoor space with a punch of greenery and fragrance, but you’ll be able to save money and trips to the grocery store. And if you’re just getting started as a gardener, there’s nothing more fulfilling than serving your guests a fresh salad with homegrown herbs — a foodies’ delight! And it’s much easier than you think.

Here are a few tips and considerations for adding an easy herb garden to your patio:

  •  To grow beautiful, lush container herbs you will need plenty of sun. A patio that gets at least 8 hours of sunshine each day is ideal.
  • You’ll also need to decide whether you want to start with seeds or with plants. You can purchase herb plants from your local garden center that are ready to go. If you’re just getting started as a gardener, you may find plants to be much easier. Seeds are less expensive and come in a wide range of flavors and varieties, but they’ll typically need to start indoors until it’s warm enough to move them to your patio. Seeds can be started indoors in a small pot and sat in a sunny windowsill before transplanting into a container for outdoors. Another option is to plant them in the container you will use on your patio, as long as it’s light enough to carry outside, after the last winter freeze.
  • Remember that seedlings will start slow, but will thrive when the weather gets warmer.
  • Another important herb planting tip is to make sure your container is a good size and has good    drainage. You’ll want to check that the hole in your container is large enough for surplus water to easily drain out as herb roots don’t like soil that is too wet. Potting mix dries more slowly so try to use a very large pot. You can combine two or more plants in your large pot, which typically works better than taking care of several small pots.
  • Go for potting mix over potting soil. Potting “mix” tends drain better than potting “soil”. It’s lighter and made of organic matter like peat or composted plants.
  • Potting mix will dry out fairly quickly. Stick your finger into the soil. If it’s dry an inch beneath the surface, water it.
  • By fertilizing with a slow-release or organic fertilizer you will replace the nutrients that frequent watering washes away. Some potting mixes will have fertilizer pellets in them.
  • Since herbs are about leaves, don’t use a fertilizer that promotes flowering. Harvest your herbs often so they won’t bloom. Blooms can change the flavor of leaves.
  • If you plant different herbs together, be sure you plant ones that the thrive in the same conditions together. By planting in pots you can more easily give each plant the specific kind of care it needs.
  • To add a touch of pretty, also consider mixing herbs with compatible, edible flowers like pansies, nasturtiums and marigolds.

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