Herbs are among the easiest plants to grow in an indoor container garden. They often thrive in small trays, as long as they have plentiful sun and well-drained soil. That’s not to say that we haven’t had some challenges along the way as the basil, oregano, and thyme have become critical elements of our urban container garden.
If you have been reading our container garden adventures, you have read about our success (okra) and our recent disaster (spinach). Today’s blog covers the ups and downs of adding basil, oregano, and thyme to our happy little garden (a nod to Bob Ross, to be sure).
Container Garden Basil
What basil needs:
1) 6 hours of sun,
2) well-draining soil,
3) regular pruning to avoid flowering, and
4) a warm environment.
Warning: Only water the base of the basil plant, not the leaves. You’ll get visited by some nasty fungus if the leaves get and stay wet.
Andy brought the first basil plant home a couple of months before the coronavirus lockdown. We kept it in a ceramic soup mug by the window in our kitchen, and it seemed to thrive. We didn’t know what we were doing, we just knew that we had to add water when it went dry. Still, despite us, it grew, and we began enjoying fresh basil all the time at home.
Just as the safer-at-home orders were put into place, Andy brought another basil plant home from the grocery store. We started it the same way, and things looked good for about a month, but it felt like both plants weren’t getting the nutrients they needed to continue thriving. By the end of May, we added them to our black container garden trays. The idea was that not only would they get more nutrients in the organic soil, but that they would also enjoy more sun.
All these many months later, the basil plants continue to produce. We had one mishap where the basil plant flowered. The flowers were gorgeous, but it’s actually a bad sign. The leaves around the flowers turn bitter, and if the section isn’t snipped, the entire plant can become bitter and die. So, we did a significant pruning.
Tip: Prune your basil plants regularly. This will encourage growth and should help you avoid the dreaded flowering.
Indoor oregano needs:
1) long days of full sun,
2) minimal watering (approximately two or three times per week or when it feels dry to the touch), and
We had a plan to include oregano in our indoor garden early on but didn’t act on it until we bought the spinach plants. I’ll admit that we haven’t used it in cooking as much as we thought we would, but we are starting to include it in red sauce, and it is delicious.
Our oregano has grown so much that it has overtaken the tray next to it and seems to be trying to date our basil plants. Again, we didn’t prune it as much as we needed to, and there is some woodiness that should be cut back. BUT the oregano has continued to grow in our indoor garden despite really only getting 50% sun through the window, rather than the optimal full sun.
What thyme needs:
1) it’s flexible with sun, but prefers as much sun as possible,
2) watering three times a week (or when it goes dry), and
3) regular pruning
Our first thyme plant came from the grocery store, and it tanked within three days. I’m going to assume that this was because the middle section was already dying when we opened the package and not due to any of our mistakes (of which, there have been many).
Despite the dramatic death of thyme (which feels appropriate given our seemingly never-ending stay-at-home COVID situation), we ordered new thyme plants when we picked up additional soil. So far, fingers crossed, both the English Thyme and the Lemon Thyme are looking good.
We have consistently added the English Thyme to breakfast dishes. It does bring a special something to eggs, and we are looking forward to working with it more. As you can see, it needs pruning, but, knock wood, it has done well in a small, round pot. It is separate from the trays in a bid to keep it from dreaded powdery mildew and white rust that have landed on our spinach and dill (a story for another time).
We bought the Lemon Thyme for two reasons: it lends a nice flavor when cooking with it, and it has a reputation for keeping certain insects away. I know it seems like a weird idea for insects to be a problem when working on an indoor container garden, but they are. So irritating! As you can see from the photo, it’s growing, but it also seems to be trying to divorce itself. It’s split nearly in the middle with one branch trying to escape both sides. We haven’t cooked with it yet, but if you have any exciting recipes that Andy should try, let us know.
That’s it for the indoor container garden on a Monday (at least, I think it is Monday). Keep coming back to Those Someday Goals for more ideas and stories about our indoor container garden adventures.