Low Maintenance Herb Garden

by Coltrane


1.  The price of basil in the supermarket.

2.  Having no space for a garden, and a lack of desire to do things like “weed.”

I thought I’d give a “self-watering” planter a try.

Self watering planter. Note the Rubik's Cube for "scale."

This picture was taken after I’d pruned about 12″ of leggy stems off of the tops — the plants have grown well enough that the neighbors are taking note of it and dropping hints about how they’d love some basil.

The planter itself has a reservoir in the bottom, and a water feed tube down one side.  There are basically “pillars” of soil that go down two of the corners.  The soil in the main part of the container then draws up the water osmotically.  The result is that the soil is never too wet and never too dry.  Basil seems to like it.

What I’ve learned about basil and the self watering planter:

1.  Basil hates it (read: dies) when the temperature drops below 50 degrees F.  In Seattle this means waiting to plant until at least late May, or rolling the planter inside at night.  (My version has wheels, which is a nice feature.)

2.  Flower buds on basil need to be pinched off as they develop, at least every few days.

3.  Last year I purchased young basil plants in May, and they were small.  This year I bought much bigger plants at Fred Meyer in the middle of June.  The small plants cost about $1.49.   The larger plants cost $2.99.  Both of the batches were the same ending size, and I avoided six weeks of “babysitting” by going with the larger, later season plants.

4.  Even though the planter is “self-watering” it still needs to be watered at least every couple of days.  When the afternoon temperatures get above about 75 or 80 degrees it needs to be watered every day.

5.  Basil requires a few hours of direct sun daily.  Dawn until about 10:30am seems to work well.

The planter should be available at any reasonably good-sized garden supply store/nursery for about $40-50.  Mine allows for a 3×2 grid of plants.  Here’s a slightly smaller version.  Here’s another that’s similar to mine (note that the caster option is $10 extra.)

Hey Jealousy

Hey Jealousy

1 comment to Low Maintenance Herb Garden

  • Iron Chef Leftovers

    Iron Chef Leftovers is dropping hints that he would love some basil since his plant did not do all that well this year (probably has something to do with forgetting to water it).

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