5 steps to grow herbs on a tiny balcony
I love cooking with fresh herbs. Every time I need some basil I simply pluck some from my own balcony herb garden. Herbs used to frustrate and disappoint me because they died within days. It turns out is actually is possible to keep them alive. In fact, they can thrive in a limited space such as a balcony. I will explain in # steps how you can also keep your balcony herbs alive! (until you want to eat them of course).
1. Pick your herbs
Depending on the space, weather and sunlight you can grow any herb. Most balconies are limited in space and sunlight so not everything will grow. The best herbs to grow on your balcony are basil, chive, dill, fennel, lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and sage because they don’t require much space nor direct sunlight. I would recommend to pick a couple of favorites, you can always add more later.
Never buy grocery store herb plants! These often have underdeveloped roots and will die quickly after purchasing them. It’s better to buy your herbs from a garden center because these have healthy roots systems. This has less growing time than seeds. But the best way to grow healthy plants is to grow them from seeds. This takes the longest but to me is also the most satisfying. The first time I tried this i was a bit over enthusiastic and sprinkled seeds everywhere. Now I know better: don’t plant them too close together. This will make them suffocate while competing over the little available soil in your pot.
2. Choose the right pot
Your pots need to have a couple of basic features. They need to be big enough to support the plants that you want to grow and have drainage holes in the bottom. This ensures that your plants don’t drown. In wooden and plastic pots you can always make some holes yourself.
You don’t want to put too many plants in your pots. The right size is key. Larger pots mean more herbs but they are harder to move around. Smaller pots can fit just about anywhere but they do require more frequent watering and can support fewer plants.
If you don’t want your pots to be in the way all the time consider hanging them on your railing. This is often also the sunniest place.
I love these type of planters that you attach to the railing. Personally I like these pots that hang on both sides of the railing. I turn them around from time to time to give both sides equal amount of sunlight. The classic look on the right can hang on both in- and outside of your railing. I like having this type on the inside because you have easier access to the herbs.
This beautiful raised herb garden has 8 pockets for different plants. It is perfect for growing your herbs if space is not an issue.
Your local climate is important to timing the planting of your herbs. For most climates the best time to plant is in spring but they can often be grown until winter. All herbs need different treatment but it is crucial to give them enough soil. Add some space between them depending on the plant.
4. Take care of your herbs
Taking care of your herbs doesn’t require much effort if you know what you’re doing. Plants in pots need to be watered more regularly than plants in soil. Make sure your dirt is always moist. Don’t put water on the leafs, these droplets can act as magnifying glasses and burn the leaves of your plant. Some plants like basil like to be watered from beneath.
A watering can with a long spout is perfect to water your herbs. You can put the water directly into the soil
5. Trimming and eating
Harvesting your herbs has to be done with care. They can be harvested throughout the growing season. Trimming the plants regularly actually helps growth and increases foliage. But is is important not to trim too much. A good rule of thumb is to never harvest more than one-third of the plant. Pick healthy plants to eat and discard any moldy, diseased or insect damaged parts.
Always use scissors for your harvest. This will make clean cuts. Your plant will be healthier and grow back better.
Pick healthy plants to eat and discard any moldy, diseased or insect damaged parts.