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Container Herb Gardens: In Case You Didn't Know You Needed One (or More)

Posted by Courtney Parker, PhD on

Urban container gardening has been embraced by a vast spectrum of individuals and broader communities in recent years.

Popularity is on the rise as people find out how these 'not-so-random acts of urban agriculture' can serve as a portal to reconnecting with nature in otherwise more 'disconnected' environments

-- while also supplementing their grocery lists with fresh, site-grown, natural ingredients like herbs for the kitchen (and/or bar)...

Restaurants are relying on container gardens to serve an ever-broadening list of wants and needs, these include:

1) General ambience and a specialty 'garden-to-table' experience for patrons and passers by (would-be patrons)

2) Natural buffer zones which repel flies and mosquito -- and, intrusive smells -- from al fresco dining or other outdoor areas

3) Fresh, culinary supplies and opportunities for experimentation, fresh garnishes, salads, (etc.) and, any other personal preferences

While restaurants in more agricultural-adjacent regions have adapted to this established trend via cultivating small farming areas in reach of their kitchen, it's the urban initiatives for the Metro area we're most interested with inspiring right now.

A flourishing herbal and edible flower garden at your place of business opens up myriad educational opportunities, and potential talking points among customers and staff, which then ripple out to into your community

Urban gardens create opportunity for folks to gain intimate familiarity with the growth stages of each herb or plant -- and, subsequent shifts in flavor which may accompany each (i.e. when you're growing your own Cilantro, for example, you may access it as Cilantro Frond, Green Coriander, and, even just as the stems).

The visible presence of plant life cycles demonstrates the concept of 'seasonality' in food -- as people witness the ecological ebb and flow of different seasons (changing as they may be) it deepens their understanding of foods and plants -- and, the different uses and the nuanced flavors which can emerge at different stages of growth..

Beyond your profits, pleasantries, and, the general utilitarian nature of urban container gardens, they are also a way to 'green up' your corner of the city block.

Guerrilla gardening has been a hot activity for activists who see urban wastelands as potential for beautifying, and carbon-mitigating, urban gardening. We're not suggesting (nor necessarily rebuking) this route; in fact, we see container gardens as a lower risk -- if slightly less radical -- way to give back.

According to the debated 'Broken Windows Theory' in criminology, wholesomely sensual environments -- as achieved via container gardens -- can actually have an impact in reducing crime in your area.

Via merit of the this perspective -- and, also to keep your container garden space beautified and productive -- it's worthy to consider contracting out the installations and maintenance to professionals. (Reach out via our website for any inquiries about this).

A professional installation can be catered to your unique needs and desires -- while also creatively adapting to the opportunities and limitations of your unique environment.

Beyond the more standard installations, rooftop installations are on the spectrum of possibilities; as are climbing walls; and, strategic insect-repelling-- while also edible and aromatic -- container gardens which buffer outdoor seating areas, especially during warmer months.

The climbing walls,  also known as living walls, can act as: wind barriers; sound barriers; and, even visual barriers from busy city streets.

List of Popular herbs for home or Restaurant Container Gardens:

1) Basil is a great container garden addition for restaurants, hence its place at the top of this list. Not only does it have virtually unlimited culinary applications, it repels flies and mosquito.

2) Lavender is well known for its aromatic and antiseptic properties -- and, it is becoming more and more well known for its culinary and bar applications. It also repels flies and mosquito.

3) Oregano is an almost ridiculously hardy container garden herb. Warmly aromatic, it will grow and grow...and grow...with very little care needed.

4) Mints have a tendency to be aggressive towards other companion plants in container gardens. You'll want to be careful even mixing different varieties of mint due to their propensity to cross-pollinate.

5) Parsley does very well in containers. It is important the soil be kept not too wet and not too dry. Parsley can be moved inside for the winter -- it only needs a few hours of direct light per day.

6) Lemon Balm has a nice lemony aroma and cute, light green, heart-shaped leaves. Like other mints, it does well contained and it can take over garden plots when left to its own devices.

7) Rosemary should be watered sparingly, whether outdoors or wintering indoors. While it is tolerant of partial shade settings, the optimal condition for Rosemary would be full sun.

8) Marjoram adds aroma to your garden area and flavor to your kitchen. Marjoram attracts butterflies and is practical in terms of companion planting. It thrives in full sun and well drained soil.

9) Thyme is another aromatic addition to your container garden and has endless applications in the kitchen. Thyme divides easily if you ever wish to multiply plants. Containers usually need to be re-potted every couple of years.

10) Sage can be moved indoors during colder seasons or weather. And while it still needs ideally 6-8 hours of direct light per day, this can be achieved artificially or through window exposure.

11) Nasturium can be used as a climbing herb to add a special aesthetic to your outdoor environment. Known for its warm and spicy aroma, it adds beauty and utility even when not in bloom.

12) Malabar Spinach -- another climbing herb -- has a mild, peppery flavor and prefers full sun. If the soil is allowed to dry out too much, the leaves can become bitter.

13) Peppers, while not technically an herb or vegetable, Peppers tend to do well in container gardens. Smaller more potent varieties such as Jalapenos and Cayenne Peppers might be optimal choices according to your palette.

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