Making An Herb Garden In A Metal Tub

Our (continued) indecision about where our vegetable and herb garden should permanently go at our new place means we missed the boat on planting anything this spring (check out our edible gardens of years past here and here). But in an attempt to grow something this year, we’ve come up with a temporary solution. And it involves this galvanized tub:

We figured we’d just do a potted herb garden this year, with only a few “edible essentials” for our kitchen. Which is why we picked up a foursome of local and organically grown herbs (parsley, oregano, basil, and mint) at the farmer’s market this weekend for $12. Speaking of which, you can read more about our trip to the market on BabyCenter today as part of their “Big Day Out” this Saturday.

But back to the tub. It was about $8 at Lowe’s (way cheaper than any planter of that size) and to turn it into our herb pot, we figured it could use some holes for drainage in the bottom. They were a cinch to make with my little cordless drill.

To make them a bit bigger, I also wiggled a big nail around in them too. Oh yeah, and I made the holes in a heart shape. Maybe I was feeling romantic? Maybe I was subliminally professing my love for galvanized tubs? Or it was an ode to the L in YHL? Either way, this photo is about the most any of us will ever see of it.

Update: A few savvy commenters recommended that we test for lead just to be sure it wouldn’t leech into our food if it was randomly present in the metal. We just used one of those $4 Lead Test Sticks from Home Depoton to test the seams, the inside, the outside, the bottom, and even the holes that we drill and it was negative. Whew. So that’s definitely something to test for if you’re not sure how pure your galvanized tin is (and you’re using it for edible herbs)!

Also for drainage, we put a layer of gravel on the bottom (they were leftovers from the patio project). Hopefully they’ll keep the majority of the soil from dripping out of my hidden hole-y heart.

Before adding any dirt, we did a quick “dry run” of the herb placement. The taller guys (basil and parsley) went in the back, and oregano got some special space on the side – since my oregano tends to get bushy. Yeah… not so sure I like the sound of that last sentence.

Of course, if things do well (i.e. grow big and strong) this tin could soon get a bit cramped. But hopefully we’ll achieve “full” and not go as far as “so full it’s bad.” But if so, we can always transplant things into their own larger dedicated pots. You know if anything gets all diva on us. And we’re keeping the mint from spreading like crazy by separating it in a buried pot (a tip we learned a while back at the farmer’s market from a friendly local gardener).

You can see dirt in the bottom of the pic above. That’s some organic potting mix that we snagged at Lowe’s. It was about twice as much as the regular stuff ($10 vs $6, I think) but we figured since we’ll be consuming these plants it was worth going the slightly more natural route (since they were organically grown up to this point).

We usually would use our nutrient rich compost pile, but since moving our DIY compost bins got a little jumbled while we got settled so we don’t appear to have enough “ready” soil to use just yet (aka: things are still breaking down).

Here are the plants all in and soil-ed up:

Since the patio (which also got a bit soil-ed, as you can see) isn’t very sunny, we decided to put the pot on our balcony-to-nowhere (right off of our living room and kitchen). Despite being between two sections of house, it gets a remarkable amount of light – almost the closest thing to full sun that we have on our mostly shaded property. Plus it’s pretty darn convenient to the kitchen.

The beauty of having our herb “garden” potted this year is that we can move it around to test other sun spots if we find that this one isn’t doing the trick (since we’re still trying to wrap our heads around sun patterns here). Heck, it might even help us decide where to put a more permanent garden next year (gotta find that sweet spot). And if we decide to keep this potted version around, it’ll still look good on the larger deck that we plan to build out here eventually. Maybe even as an oversized centerpiece on an outdoor table?

And since no herb garden story is complete with an artsy close-up of your plant labels – here we go!

If you’re wondering, Colonel Oregano is not some weird variety of oregano. It’s just me being weird. I decided it’d be funny to take our simple popsicle stick labels and give them the Clue-character treatment. You know like Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard? Here’s my whole cast of made up herbs / suspect names. Yes, I’m what Sherry’s dad likes to call “a strange bird” (he’s also the man trying to single-handedly bring back the term “sick puppy”).

Next year if we decide to grow peppers it will be tough deciding whether to give it the “Sergeant” or “Doctor” title. Though the idea of a Dr. Pepper plant sounds pretty awesome, so maybe I’ve already made my decision.

What are you guys growing this year? Anything sprouting up particularly well or deliciously? Anything not showing as much promise as you’d like? Anything murdering someone in the conservatory with the lead pipe?

Psst- Don’t forget to check out the rest of our Farmer’s Market adventures here on BabyCenter.






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