Having a really successful herb garden while living in an apartment is a lot easier than it seems. With the right tools, a little bit of research and patience you can turn the private patio or balcony of your apartment into a lush space that features fresh and fragrant herbs. Not only will having an herb garden enhance your outdoor space but you will also have the luxury of fresh herbs readily available for easy weeknight meals or your next gourmet get-together.
First, select your space and assess the sunlight situation. Many apartments feature a private patio or balcony. This is the ideal spot for your new garden, provided the light is just right. If you have outdoor space that is in the shade all day, it’s probably not going to yield the desired results. Most plants are good with about 6 hours in the sun, some even less.
When you have decided that you have the right space in mind, gather your supplies. You can start purchasing planting and gardening equipment at any time of the year, but don’t actually want to plant until you are sure that outside temperatures won’t reach the freezing point again. Research your planting zone if you need help figuring this out. As for other supplies, think about the containers you want to use. It’s tempting to choose what is cutest, but this is the time to choose what is most practical, and what will work best in the space, and sunlight, that you have. Lastly, invest in some sort of “potting mix” soil and a good hand-held garden spade.
Now that you have space and tools, the next step is to buy your plants. While there is something so very romantic about starting plants from seeds it’s easiest and best to start with plants that are already thriving. You can purchase these anywhere from a local farmer’s market to your nearest big box hardware store to even the local nursery in your neighborhood. Make sure you also save the tags that come in the plants. There is vital information on there including planting depth and distance from other plants, water recommendations, and sunlight requirements.
Now you are ready to plant! Start by placing soil in whatever pot or container you choose, leaving wells for the new plants. Make sure you leave enough space between each well, as the plant roots will spread over the course of the summer. Never grab your plant by the leaves, as you want to keep the roots intact. Grab your plant by the stems and slowly remove it from the pot in which you bought it. If the root ball is in one huge clump, loosen it with your hands a little, this will help the roots settle in the new soil. Fill the space around the well and the roots with more soil, and pat down lightly. Water your plant, liberally. That’s it! You’re done!
Remember to frequently trim and water your herb garden. Do your research on how to harvest your herbs for home use. For example, cut basil by the stem, not the leaf. Where you cut basil, a new sprout will form, making the plant fuller as the summer wears on. Even though you might not need the use of a specific herb right away, it’s good to keep the plants at a manageable size. There are a few simple methods to preserve herbs that can last you not only through the season, but as the cold starts to set in as well.