Gardening Questions for Jennifer: How Can I Plant a Variety of Herbs and Vegetables in a Container Garden?

Gardening Questions for Jennifer: How Can I Plant a Variety of Herbs and Vegetables in a Container Garden?

Faith Durand
May 7, 2008

We asked for gardening questions for kitchen gardening expert Jennifer Bartley. Here's an answer to two of your questions.

Susmita asks: I have always had a brown thumb, but I would like to grow some herbs to keep on hand for cooking. Any advice for a novice gardener for container herb gardening? Is it better to have several types in one pot, or separate pots of each? And if so, what goes well together? I'd like to have basil, rosemary, and mint, at a minimum.

Read on for the second question as well as Jennifer's answer and explanation of her beautiful illustration above - painted just to answer these questions...

And from Loulouie: I have limited outdoor space for gardening, but lots of plans for this summer. How can I best use this space - specifically: How to plan plots for more than one thing in the season - I have a lot of space used up on radishes, lettuce, spinach, peas, scallions - and these won't last all season. What will be ready to plant in my radish corner when the radishes are gone?

Vegetables, herbs and flowers all grow well in pots. Have fun and mix up edibles and non-edibles, perennials and annuals. Just remember what you can eat and what you can't. The combinations are really endless so plant what you love.

Here is a trio of pots with a variety of herbs and flowers. Everything in the pots is edible except the Sweet alyssum but I've used it because it attracts beneficial insects and has a nice fragrance. The scarlet runner beans are a favorite, with edible scarlet flowers that attract hummingbirds. The beans are also edible and are best eaten when young.

'Huntington Carpet' rosemary is a climbing rosemary (which would also do well in a hanging basket). The Swiss chard and bloody sorrel are edible, great in soups and stir-fries, but even if you don't eat them they look attractive in containers or in the garden.

Cutting celery is a bit like parsley; you eat the leafy tops. Cut some to use and it will grow back. Bronze fennel is best as a garnish; its fern-like foliage smells like licorice and attracts beneficials. It is a host plant for the Swallowtail butterfly.

I plant pots very full then trim and cut back as the plants flourish and grow during the season, often taking plants out when they get crowded.

Loulouie, check the frost free date in your area and after that date I would put cherry tomatoes, small peppers, eggplant (try 'Bambino', a petite variety) and basil in your pots. Plant these in among the radishes and other cool season vegetables; as you harvest out the cool season varieties the heat loving veggies will have more room to grow.

Thank you Jennifer!

Related: How Can I Grow Mint Indoors?

-- Jennifer Bartley is the author of Designing the New Kitchen Garden: An American Potager Handbook, and she blogs at American Potager.

(Image: Jennifer Bartley)

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