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Gardening features

Container Herb Gardening

Keep your herbs in full sun in spring and fall, and through the summer in cool climates. In warm weather climates, morning sun and some afternoon shade is preferable during summer months. Mint will even tolerate shade all day.

Just before herbs flower and during the flowering period are the best times to harvest most herbs for maxium flavor and fragrance. Regular snipping of leaves and stems actually helps many herbs by forcing the plants to branch and become bushy.

Many herbs can be taken indoors when winter approaches, though they do not grow as well indoors as out. About three weeks before your first frost cut back all plant growth by half, and clip off weak stems and runners.

Scrub the outside of pots with a stiff brush dipped in a light bleach solution(one tablespoon household bleach to a quart of warm water) to remove dirt, moss and other debris. Before bringing the pots indoors, some gardeners like to drench the soil in containers with a weak insecticide solution to rid plants of any pests they may harbor. Pouring water into a pot until it drains out the bottom in a steady stream for two minutes also will dislodge pests.

Salts that build up in the soil from fertilizer and tap water will be flushed away, too. When you bring your herbs indoors, place them in west or south facing windows. An expensive fluorescent light fixture mounted at the top of a window frame can turn a dim window into an ideal spot.

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