ScotteeM

Home Gardens - Tips, Tricks, Methods, and the Bounty

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I'm trying to plan my garden for this year, and make a list of the culinary herbs I want to include.

I'm talking about a tiny town-house front yard that faces south. I already have a sage plant that will celebrate 14 years there in May, and is due for a major pruning shortly.

I'm thinking about basil, oregano, parsley, chives, thyme, tarragon, and lavender.

I love rosemary, but it is so sensitive that I usually can't persuade it to stick around.

What do you cook with and love to grow?

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Chives are notorious for taking over space, so I'd advise a container for them. We've had good luck with oregano, thyme, lavender and rosemary. The bunnies always get to the tarragon before we do.

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Don't give up on the rosemary. A truly wonderful local source for plants, DeBaggio Herb Farm and Nursery (www.debaggioherbs.com), specializes in varieties that show some hardiness in this area. DeBaggio, located in Chantilly, reopens for the season in a few weeks. They take their herbs seriously, and you can find an incredible variety of almost any herb, tomato, or pepper you could want. (The story of the founder, Tom DeBaggio, is heartwarming, too.)

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I grow everything in containers out of necessity. I threw out a tarragon plant I had for years because the weeds just took it over. Ever since, I haven't been able to grow it successfully. Rosemary is another matter. It's considered a tender perennial, but mine has been happily growing outdoors for three years now. Thyme is very hardy, as is oregano. Basil likes some shade and is an annual (unless you have a greenhouse). Lavender likes to be dry, so don't let it get overwatered.

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I've had really good luck with rosemary on my back deck.

I also tend to have luck with thyme, oregano, and basil.

I want to experiment with tomatoes in a few locations this year to see where (or more appropriately IF) they thrive.

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We grow all of our herbs and tomato plants in containers on the back deck, and they thrive there. Our rosemary easily survived the winter, and we'll do Greek oregano, garlic chives, Genoa basil, Thai basil, tarragon and thyme this year in addition to Santa F1 and yellow plum tomatoes. We've also had good results with laurel, sorrel and cilantro.

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I have a very shady yard, so my herb gardens have never done that well here. But I would suggest you grow some mint, if you have a spot that stays moist and somewhat shaded. Mint does tend to take over in places it is happy, so it might be a good idea to separate it from your other herbs, if possible, or grow it in a container.

The other herb that I like fresh, that you haven't listed, is marjoram. It's rarely available fresh, and is totally different than dried marjoram--perfume-y and sweet, more delicate than oregano or sage. I like it a lot.

I had a huge perennial herb garden when I lived in Santa Monica, and the herb I miss the most is European bay (different than bay laurel). I had a plant that started in a 5" pot, and when we had to move out of that house 12 years later, it was a veritable hedge, about 6 feet tall. I use to make holiday wreaths from it. I'm not sure whether it would survive the winters in this climate, but it is a wonderful herb that I use all the time.

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We'll go with our usual complement of tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers - we'll start them from seed this week and throw some sugar snap peas into the ground as well. For herbs, we stick mainly to basil, although we'll probably have some rosemary and thyme lying around as well.

July and August are happy days in the Brennan household as we feast on all the fruits of the garden - we even harvest the leaves of the pepper plants and use them in stews.

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I have several pots of mint (peppermint, Spearmint, Black) that come up every year. I add most of the herbs listed here. My Taragon always does well and generally comes back on its own. I also have a bay tree that comes in over the winter. This year I am adding several fig trees to the garden.

If anyone is intrested I have some extra mint to share and or trade. I am in Vienna and just PM me if you are intrested.

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Just saw the first few leaves of my Greek Oregano returning yesterday. Hope it doesn't get killed by tomorrow's storm.

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Just saw the first few leaves of my Greek Oregano returning yesterday. Hope it doesn't get killed by tomorrow's storm.

Nah, it'll be fine. Won't be cold enough for long enough to kill that off.

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Does anyone have recommendations for starting a small herb garden on the balcony of an apartment building? It will likely only get a few hours of direct sunlight per day. Thanks!

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Does anyone have recommendations for starting a small herb garden on the balcony of an apartment building?  It will likely only get a few hours of direct sunlight per day.  Thanks!

Don't. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but very few if any culinary herbs will grow in just a few hours of sunlight. You may be able to get away with it if by "just a few" you mean four and those hours center on noon. Otherwise you're looking at scraggly plants that will stretch and give a poor harvest and die early. Unless you want to sprout the seed and harvest them as microgreens. Which is actually a fun thing to do if you accidentally sow too many.

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I'm going to have to disagree with Porcupine here. Last year, for the first time ever, I attempted to grow herbs on my balcony and was successful. I picked up a container with organic herbs already started for me. The flower vender at Dupont on the north end sells them. I grew two types of basil, parsley and oregano. The purple basil didn't last very long but the rest of the plants flurished into the fall.

My trick was to put it in the corner where the last of the sunlight will linger. I have a brown thumb and usually kill everything I try to grow. Even with the lack of attention, forgetting to water, and anything else I could have done wrong those things did their damndest to grow <_<

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I'm going to have to disagree with Porcupine here.  Last year, for the first time ever, I attempted to grow herbs on my balcony and was successful.

Happy to be proven wrong. One of the joys of gardening is doing something that "can't be done" - like when the younger DiBaggio told me "it will never work" to grow roses and lavender in the same bed. <_<

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Does anyone have recommendations for starting a small herb garden on the balcony of an apartment building?

Another possibility, which I saw in the SoHo Sur La Table last weekend, is an indoor hydroponic setup complete with its own mini grow lamp. Of course, it seems rather pricey...you could probably kludge up something just as effective for less moolah.

Also, I believe DeBaggio's site says they're opening for the season this Saturday. The rosemary plant I bought from them in '04 continues to expand like a trooper in my north-facing backyard garden...go figure.

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Does anyone have recommendations for starting a small herb garden on the balcony of an apartment building?  It will likely only get a few hours of direct sunlight per day.  Thanks!

Try it and see how they grow. If things look rough you can always buy a growlight.

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Try it and see how they grow.  If things look rough you can always buy a growlight.

Even the best growlight provides about 10% of the wattage of the sun (at noon in the summer, on a clear day).

happy owner of a 1000 watt, full spectrum/metal halide grow light,

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I'm going to have to disagree with Porcupine here.  Last year, for the first time ever, I attempted to grow herbs on my balcony and was successful.  I picked up a container with organic herbs already started for me.  The flower vender at Dupont on the north end sells them.  I grew two types of basil, parsley and oregano.  The purple basil didn't last very long but the rest of the plants flurished into the fall. 

My trick was to put it in the corner where the last of the sunlight will linger.  I have a brown thumb and usually kill everything  I try to grow.  Even with the lack of attention, forgetting to water, and anything else I could have done wrong those things did their damndest to grow <_<

Thanks! I have the brown thumb disease as well, but think I will follow your advice and stop by that flower vendor and copy you.

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Another suggestion to keep in mind is to visit your local coffee store (Starbucks, Murky Coffee, etc...) and ask for their used coffee grounds. I know that the former puts their used grounds in large bags for customers to take for free. Mixing the coffee grounds in your gardening soil is food porn for plants.

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I am an uber plant killer, but I usually manage to keep a couple of Thai basil plants alive as well as a regular basil plant. This year I will probably plant a small vegetable garden so that I can tend it with the munchkin.

My mom grows a great assortment of herbs and some veggies. She usually digs the herbs up and pots them for winter so that she can keep them alive inside. She usually has lemongrass (I might try this one this year), culantro, Thai basil, several different kinds of hot peppers, shiso, mint, water spinach, and some other things that I don't know the names for.

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the continuing cool spriong has been a boon for my arugula crop.....growing like a weed and delicious peppery goodness in every bite - harvesting bagfuls of the stuff from only 3 5 foot long rows

peas are starting to climb up the vines - I was a little late in planting this year so will take what I get

seedlings are getting big and strong and waiting for life outdoors

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the continuing cool spriong has been a boon for my arugula crop.....growing like a weed and delicious peppery goodness in every bite - harvesting bagfuls of the stuff from only 3 5 foot long rows

Where did you get the arugula from? Was it seeds, or...? I've heard even a brown thumb like myself can grow it.

I've got a bumper crop of herbs already, which seem to be thriving on neglect:

tarragon (couldn't get it to grow last year, but it's going crazy now)

chervil (good stuff-- got the plant at the Dupont Farmer's market)

mint (grows like a weed)

chives (with blossoms)

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Tomatoes are thriving.

Rosemary is starting to move.

Basil and thyme are the other things so far.

I had never really thought of growing arugula. How much sun does it need?

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Where did you get the arugula from?  Was it seeds, or...?  I've heard even a brown thumb like myself can grow it.

I've got a bumper crop of herbs already, which seem to be thriving on neglect: 

tarragon (couldn't get it to grow last year, but it's going crazy now)

chervil (good stuff-- got the plant at the Dupont Farmer's market)

mint (grows like a weed)

chives (with blossoms)

Not only does mint grow like a weed, it spreads like crazy and will invade any garden space you have. Best to have it grow in a pot or half barrel.

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