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Gardener's Notebook: Think herbs for container gardens

Most herbs like full sun and well-drained soil
Not all gardens are large. There are small area options. (File Photo)

YORKTON - We often talk about container planting, and one group of plants that do very well in containers are herbs. And if you have a collection of your favorite herbs growing in containers near your back door, you’ll be amazed how convenient it is to add new flavors to your meals.

So what are your favorite herbs? Many of us would include the best-loved standards like parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (sounds like a song, doesn’t it!) because they are so versatile and can easily be dried for future use. Parsley is so versatile, delicious in a salad, or adding so much flavor to soups, stews, and with poultry. Sage brings a wonderful flavor to turkey and dressing, and if you want to go exotic, something interesting like chicken saltimbocca. Rosemary is simply made to pair with pork, and you have heard me mention yummy rosemary walnuts! Thyme is delicate and delicious with all kinds of meat, and nice for eggs, too.

But there are so many other herbs to add to our culinary palette. Tarragon has an interesting licorice flavor and is very good with fish. Basil is a flash of flavor in spaghetti sauces, pesto, or eaten fresh with slices of tomato, what a lovely summer salad! Dill can easily be grown in a container, saving you steps out to the garden. There are many flavors of mint, and this is a nice plant to grow in a container because mint can be quite invasive in our gardens.

Most herbs like full sun and well-drained soil. We should use a good-sized container with good drainage. Soiless mix works beautifully because it drains well and is not very heavy. The beauty of planting herbs in containers is that we can move them around if necessary. Herbs benefit from our use, sending out more branches as they are pinched. It is good to pinch any flowers that start to form, because then the plant will continue to put energy into the leaves. This is especially true of basil.

If you are interested in trying new and interesting herbs, check out the herbs at Richter’s ( This fascinating company is based in Ontario, and they have a catalogue bursting with all kinds of herbs: some familiar, some totally new, all of them fascinating in their properties and uses.

Their website is also very interesting in that there are some videos available for us to watch online on how to use various herbs. Click on “Visit Us” and then click on “events”. I watched a couple of the sessions, including one about “potager gardening”. “Potager” means an ornamental kitchen garden, and this topic can give us all kinds of ideas of how to make not only an edible, but a beautiful garden as well.

We are lucky to be able to find various herbs locally in the greenhouses in the spring, but if you would like to explore the world of herbs and find something completely different, Richters would be a good place to start. If you would like to order a copy of their catalog, you can do it online or by sending a request to Richters Herbs, 357 Hwy 47, Goodwood, Ontario, L0C 1A0.

Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, (747 – 814) was known for his military campaigns, but in his personal life it is said that he loved to throw big banquets for friends and family, which is perhaps why he is credited with the quote “Herbs are the friend of the physician and the pride of cooks.” And trust Erma Bombeck to make us laugh, even about spices: “Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I'm taking with me when I go.” See what’s new with the Yorkton hort society at Thank you to our friends at YTW for their great work. Gardeners, have a happy week!