If you are a novice gardener but being a beginner in making a ground garden seems overwhelming, perhaps you got the suggestion to try container gardening. However, if all those pots and containers still seem too big for you, you can go mini by trying your hand at creating mini-herb gardens.
Regardless of you decide to just have a small garden because your backyard space is small, a limited container garden, or you really have no space for a garden, it isn’t difficult and it can be a load of fun in growing herbs in very small containers. They’re very easy to maintain and there truly is nothing better than watching your dwarf garden grow and thrive. You can create a subtle indoor hanging garden or create a wall garden; either way, an herb garden won’t only provide you with good smelling herbs and spice up your foods, but will also brighten up your outdoors. Imagine the wonderful smells that will be wafting from your little plants as you come out from the house.
And there’s nothing like using freshly picked herbs in the kitchen. They make any dish so delectable, savory, and often times more beautifully presented. Most culinary herbs are easy to grow indoors and make it easy to pick from your own mini herb garden all-year round. You can plant them in individual mini-containers, or in one container easy to move around. Most herbs are easily germinated from seed and are very affordable as starting seeds and plants from your local plant store or nursery.
Common Plants That Can Start You on Your Mini Herb Garden
- Basil. The most common sweet and fragrant leafy herb you’ll find in any chef’s kitchen. This herb is commonly used in sauces, pesto, salads and other Italian dishes. It easily grows and produces in the summer and fall; needs maximum sunlight.
- Chives. A member of the onion family, this herb is best used with potatoes, salads, and with fish.
- Dill. Used in many Asian and Mediterranean dishes. This herb has aromatic fern-like scrumptious tops.
- Mint. A fresh and clean herb best used in drinks, salads, and sweet dishes.
- Oregano. This herb is often used with Italian dishes, tomato sauces, and mixed with vegetables. It is easy to grow and contains many health benefits.
- Parsley. This herb is usually used uncooked and as a garnish and contains a very mild flavor.
- Rosemary. An herb with a woody and fragrant smell, it is best used on potatoes, bread, and vegetables.
- Sage. It has a slightly peppery flavor often used for meats or in Italian dishes.
- Thyme. This is a basic ingredient in numerous cuisines and is an essential and aromatic herb to grow.
A Few Growing Tips
Most herbs prefer sunny locations but do check online and research how much sun a specific herb needs. Some herbs either prefer being outside or on a south facing window. Make sure the bottom of your pot or planting area has a drainage hole, as herbs prefer well drained soil. Some of your mini-containers may be unique or DIY projects so never ever forget the drainage holes. Make sure that each herb has a depth 7-9 inches for root growth. Consider keeping invasive herbs such as mint, lemon balm and peppermint growing separately so as not to overcrowd the others.
Creating Your Mini Herb Garden in Easy Steps
Instead of buying ready-made mini-containers, why not have fun by creating your own DIY mini herb containers by using recyclable plastic containers that people would usually just throw away. You’ll have fun with making the containers while doing the environment a favor by recycling plastic trash. What you need:
- Starter herbs or seeds from the local farmers’ market. Make sure you don’t buy too much.
- Just get enough for the containers you’ll be making.
- Potting soil.
- Small plastic containers of any kind, any sort, and any size.
- Big plastic container that acts as a plate.
- String or yarn.
- (Optional) Wooden sticks from chopstick or popsicle stick (to make the herbs grow straight up or as name labels).
- (Optional) A piece of cardboard about 3x 2cm in size for each herb.
- (Optional) Used coffee grounds.
- Double-sided tape or hot glue.
- Used ice pick, wall-awl, or anything you can use to make holes in plastic.
- (Optional) Water-based pen.
Make a hole. Make holes at the bottom of the container using your sharp object for draining water from the soil. Make just two to four small holes, or at least enough for draining so water won’t build up in the container.
Wrapping with string. There are two ways to wrap the string around the container.
- First, you can use double-sided tape because it’s easy, and you don’t need to be worried about making a mistake, such as burning yourself using a glue gun.
Attach the tape on the whole outside of the container. Wrap string on the taped container. When you start wrapping string, make room at the very edge of the container to untie the string.
- Second, when using glue, simply apply glue on the side of the containers and begin wrapping string around outside of the containers. All steps are pretty much the same.
Putting in the soil for planting. Mix some soil with the used coffee grounds at the ration of nine to one. The coffee grounds have a fertilizer effect on the herbs.
Taking the herbs to plant. Take the herbs out of the existing container and remove the soil from the herbs gently because it might damage the roots. If you’re planting with seeds, read the instructions on how many seeds are needed for a small container. Usually one or two is enough. Simply plant the seeds into the soil. Remember that annual herbs are especially easy to start from seed while most perennial herbs take longer to germinate and grow so it is easier to start from plants.
Transplanting. Plant the herbs into the container and cover with the mixed soil used in step 4. Then, gently press the soil to release any air pocket.
Making the name label (optional). Although this step is optional, a mini herb garden will always look better when the planted herbs are labeled. Other people also won’t keep bothering you for the names of the herbs. Take your cardboard piece (3.5x2cm) and write down the name of the herb on it with water-based pen. Then, take your stick is at least double the length of the container. Attach the double-sided tape on one side of it, and wrap the string or yarn or whatever you like to have on the tape. Make sure to make enough room to attach the name label at the end of the stick. Now you can attach the label on the top of the stick and poke the name label in front of the herb.
Make a plate for your herbs. Get a longer or bigger container to make a plate. If it is a used salad or fruit plastic container, so you need to cut the lid and make two plates. Then, do the same thing you did in step 3. Attach the double-sided tape on the each side of the container and wrap the string or yarn on it or use a glue gun if you prefer. Place the individual herb containers on the plate.
Enjoy your mini herb garden. Watch your mini herb garden grow and thrive. If you enjoyed yourself, you can create more mini herbs using other containers and still following all the steps above. If you plan to place your mini herbs on the ledge of a south facing window, never let leaves touch the cold windows during winter. Water your herbs to keep soil moist but not soggy, and drain saucers after watering. Use a water dropper or small watering container to water. Fertilize every two weeks with a half-strength solution of an all-purpose fertilizer. Pinch back branching plants, such as basil, to keep the herb shrubby rather than leggy.
There are other ideas or containers you can try out for a mini herb garden:
Used tool boxes. If you run across some old or vintage tool boxes, ask for them or buy them to create slightly larger and unique mini herb gardens. Drill a few holes in the bottom for proper drainage, fill up the tool box with good organic potting soil and then transplant or seed plant some sage, rosemary, basil, oregano, and dill, all properly spaced from each other. You can add a small aloe plant and cactus on either end just to spruce up the garden a bit. Or instead of these, you can add some toy furniture or other stuff from your kid’s old toy chest.
Making a Mini Herb Fairy Garden
- Select a container with a drainage hole. For a fairy garden, it is recommended to get stronger ready-made terra cotta or hard plastic containers.
- High-quality potting soil.
- Herb plants such as boxwood, lithodora, Irish moss, and living-rock plants, although you can select your own herbs to plant and combine.
Plan the design . Create a magical miniature fairy container garden that will enthrall anyone who sees it. In common make-believe landscapes, a pint-sized bush is a large tree, twigs and leaves turn into furniture, and tiny woodland sprites become products of the imagination. Arrange the plants so you can create the effect of a little forest, a mossy lawn and other scaled-down features of Mother Nature. Then start imagining the fairies that visit late at night when the world is asleep. Start out by using sticks to “sketch” out the design in the potting soil. Decide where the tree will go and the best places for the other plants, the bench and any other decorative items. For more realism, you can also use miniatures available in hobby stores. Just make sure the scale is the same as your plants.
Planting or transplanting. Just follow the steps and instructions from above pertaining to planting and transplanting. With fairy gardens, it’s better to work straightaway with plants rather than waiting for seeds to germinate so you can properly layout the fairy miniature garden.
You can add stones, other miniatures, and even décor. You can use small pebbles on the soil to make a path. Create furniture out of natural materials, such as a piece of bark, four sticks and a leaf for a bench. Create a mini “bird’s nest” (or get a miniature one available at craft supply stores) and sticks to create a fairy chair. You can also construct a little bench by stacking a larger rock on top of two smaller rocks. Anyone looking at your miniature garden will love imagining and creating the various furnishings and decor.
Note: If you want to include a fairy house in your fairy garden, consider making each wall from different materials. Vertical twigs placed closely together can be used for one side, while small stacked rocks can be used for another wall. Three walls are all your need since leaving the fairy house open in front allows you to decorate the inside. Twigs or bark work nicely for a roof. Inside the house you can add stone “tiles” or a leaf “carpet” or a bark “hardwood” floor. Flower petals or scraps of fabric can be placed on top of flat rock “beds.” You can even build a play area at the back of the house for fairy children. You can even create a mini swing using twigs and yarn. Or you can simply purchase a set of house miniatures and arrange them inside the fairy house. Just make sure the scale is the same.
Mason Jar Garden
If you have unused mason jars lying around or you can buy some cheap, make some as herb containers as a DIY project. Make a wall herb garden where you can hang the mason jar mini herb garden. Without holes for drainage you have to be careful not to overwater your plants; you could also place a few stones in the bottom of the jar so that the water sits there and not in the soil.