Inexpensive Yet Creative Hacks for a DIY Tabletop Herb Garden

DIY Tabletop Herb Garden
Anyone who cooks knows the difference fresh herbs can make, but actually acquiring them can be a hassle (farmers' market is only open on Saturday) or expensive (six dollars for a handful of basil?). Make it simple - grow your own. Do it inside so it lasts all year no matter how much snow falls.
Having access to fresh herbs makes all the difference in your cooking, but maintaining a full-blown garden can be extremely time-consuming, costly and labor intensive. And, depending upon where you live, all that work may only yield a few months of herbs from last frost to first frost.
How about this - grow an indoor herb garden! And make it small enough that it fits on a table or windowsill. Keeping the plants small reduces the overall maintenance load, and you'll have beautiful fresh herbs all year round. Best of all, it's super easy.
Choose a Container
Container or Pots for Plants
Your small garden needs to be corralled in something, and it can be whatever suits you. If you're planning to keep it on a windowsill, try installing a window box on the inside of the window - the attached brackets make it much sturdier than balancing a regular planter on the sill.

You have much more leeway for tabletops - pretty bowls and pots, decorative watering cans, even vintage punch bowls (it's fun to watch the roots grow through the sides of the bowl). Choose a container about eight or so inches deep and wide enough to hold all of your plants with a few inches in between. Make sure there are drainage holes - if there aren't, drill some.
Prepare the Container
Preparing container for plants
Line the container with landscaping fabric to keep dirt leakage at bay, then pour a layer of gravel to help with drainage. Fill the container about halfway with potting soil. This is important - use potting soil or potting mix, not regular garden soil. You want something that has good water retentive properties and is pre-fortified with nutrients. These plants won't have the benefit of nature, so all their nourishment will come from you. While you're shopping for supplies, pick up a good herb compost (add into soil) and fertilizer, too. Fertilizing every couple of months or so will help make up for the nutrients your plants are missing by being in "captivity".
Add the Plants
Parsley, Basil, Oregano and Thyme
Decide which herbs you want to plant. Parsley, basil, oregano and thyme are extremely popular and versatile, and are generally forgiving and easy to grow. Think about where you'll be keeping the mini garden - most herbs love bright sunlight, but others prefer partial shade. It's important that all the plants in the container have the same light and water requirements.

You can start with seeds, but then you run the risk of having a few non-starters, which leads to wasted space in the pot. It's best to start with small seedlings about three to four inches high. When you shop, look for plants that look strong and healthy with bright color and good, upright posture. Avoid plants that are already wilted or discolored. Go to a nursery instead of a big box or home improvement store - you'll find better-looking plants.
Herbs
Place the plants into the container and fill in with soil. Be careful not to plant anything crooked - it leads to a nightmare of twisted growth and entanglement later.
Maintenance Plan
Maintenance of Plants
Place your garden in your chosen spot, water, and leave it alone for a few days to get acclimated. Once the plants begin to thrive, snip off leaves as needed for cooking - never remove more than 30% of the plant at once to avoid permanent damage. Check the moisture daily - plunge your fingers into the soil up to the second knuckle and add water if it feels dry. Don't over water, because potted plants run the risk of root rot. Snip off any flowers that start to grow, because you want the plant to put all of its resources toward producing more of those delicious leaves.
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