Q.I’ve recently moved into a new flat which has no garden but does have a small window box. I wish to grow some herbs for general cooking and flavouring.
Just wondering what herbs you would recommend for a window box especially considering it’s now October. Also any tips for growing these herbs?
(Mr Dan Holland, 26 October 2008)
A.Some of the herb varieties we recommend that will grow well in a window-box include:
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum minimum) – this is a compact variety of the popular herb
- Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) – again this is a specially developed variety
- Dill (Anethum graveolens) – a dwarf variety
- Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum) – this has a particularly beautiful flavour
- Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Compacta’) – a dwarf variety
- Vietnamese coriander (Polygonum odoratum) – not the normal variety but a good substitute that regrows after cutting
Basil, chives, dill and oregano can be grown from seed but seeding time for most herbs is between March and April, so as you’ve suggested in your query, October isn’t really the best time for planting! But don’t give up: there are some things you can do.
Visit your local garden centre or look on the Internet for perennial herb plants like sage or thyme. Remember to check the variety of the herb and the size to which it will grow. Most plants will have a label telling you if they’re suitable for a container, such as a window-box.
If you look carefully, you may even be able to find some seeds that can still be planted. Lemon coriander, for example, has a long planting season. Alternatively pop in some garlic bulbs and grow your own ready for next summer.
When you’re ready to start planting, first make sure the window-box is clean. There are disinfectant washes you can use to ensure there are no nasty little surprises living there that may kill or eat your herbs. For the same reason use commercial compost, which will be disease-free. Put a layer of gravel at the base of the window-box. Herbs dislike being waterlogged so you need to make sure that nothing blocks the drainage holes and stops water flowing out freely.
To encourage growth feed your herbs weekly during the growing season.