Just because you’re in a rental house or apartment with no lawn doesn’t mean you have to give up on gardening. With this planter box you can keep your kitchen stocked with fresh herbs all summer long.
Step One: pick your plants
When deciding which herbs to plant, think about what you like to cook. I chose some very basic herbs that I know I will use throughout the season—Basil, Sage, Rosemary, Italian Parsley, Thyme. It could be fun to create a box that provides herbs, spices and vegetables for a specific dish or cuisine—you could plant Thai basil, mint, cilantro or coriander and spicy chilis for a Vietnamese Pho-inspired box.
Step 2: prepare your crate
Flip your crate over. Using a ⅛-inch drill bit, make rows of holes in the bottom. I made three rows of multiple holes to ensure good drainage.
Sand down your drilled holes on the bottom side of your box if there are any rough edges.
Then take broken pottery and spread a layer over the bottom of the inside of the crate. Pottery pieces should be approximately one-inch square. I used a bunch of cracked terra cotta pots from previous years. If you don’t have cracked pottery, you can purchase river rocks, gravel or even crumbled styrofoam. This extra layer will help with drainage.
Step 3: pot your plants
Once the drainage layer is in, pour your potting soil into the box. Scoop out little holes in the soil where you intend to plant your herbs and space plants according to seed packet instructions. Drop herb plants into their holes and mound roots with soil, pressing down lightly to compact dirt around the plant. Give your plants a light drink of water and place in a sunny window or spot in your yard.
Step 4: tend to your tiny herb garden
As your plants grow, snip fresh herbs for use in your kitchen. If you notice the plants producing flowers, cut them back so they keep producing plant rather than focusing on producing flowers. If your herb garden goes crazy, some herbs do well once they are picked and refrigerated in a glass of water with a bag covering their tops.
You can also preserve fresh herbs in the freezer. Roughly chop herbs and place into ice cube trays until each cube is about two-thirds full. Fill with up olive oil and freeze until hard. Use in your favorite recipes as needed.
Photos courtesy of Frankie Schneckloth
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 178