My New Herb Bed

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Joined Feb 1, 2007
Having gotten tired or replacing wood all the time, I decided, last year, to rebuild my herb garden using concrete block. Thought I'd update everyone.

The basic garden is a square, the inside of which is four feet on a side. This, in turn, is subdivided into four 2 x 2 compartments. The bed is two tiers high. Originally I'd planned on building two of these.

You know how sometimes the most obvious thing escapes you, then suddenly hits you like a two by twice twixt the eyes? So it was. It suddenly occured to me that the holes in the block were, themselves, containers, and there was no reason not to fill them with soil. Which I did.

Given my location, garden aesthetics are not a particular concern to me. Even so, I wasn't sure I wanted that pile of gray right outside the door. Turns out, however, that you can use a special masonary primer and then any outdoor paint that strikes your fancy. So we painted the whole thing green. Everyone who's seen it pronounces it gorgeous.

What I've got out there are basil, parsley, thyme, and tarragon in the holes. The four big compartments hold lavender, rosemary, sage, and oregano. Mint and chives I left in their own containers.

So, I'm very happy with this approach, and, more than likely, will build a second such bed for the medicinals.

Many of you have asked about container growing, and not having a lot of room. Well, concrete block might be the solution for you. You don't have to build a fancy bed, as I did. Just think of each block as a double pot, each of which holds two plants. You can move them around at will. Or even build a wall, permanent or not. For instance, looking at how my box turned out, I wouldn't hesitate to put an herb wall at the edge of a patio or terrace.
 
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Any chance of a pic or two? 

 Container growing has been one of my fancies for some time now. 

  KHY, do ever play with water container gardening.  I ask because I keep manny marginals and even lillies and lotus in containers on my deck and have enjoyed them for years. Not edible but nice and contemplative for one to look at. 

   Also I keep one of my favourite and in my opinion, underrated mints, Mentha aquatica, in hanging containers and containers on the ground. along with water cress, Houttuynia cordata (chameleon plant), Lemmna minor (duckweed), Nasturtium officinale (water cress), Oenathe javanica  (water celery).  All of the preceeding are highly edible and I use frequently. The containers allow me to ensure that the environmental factors are as controlled as much as possible while still being aestetically pleasing. 
 
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Sorry, Fr33-Mason, but I don't use a digital camera, so posting pix is, shall we say, difficult at best. But it shouldn't be hard to visualize. Standard block & mortar construction for the side walls, two tiers high. For the dividers I built forms, added rebar & remesh to the centers, and poured in concrete.

To me the revelation was learning I could paint the block any color I wished. I knew about concrete dye, but not about the special primer.

I left the holes in the front wall alone, but planted the two sides and back. One entire side is basil, the other tarragon. The back is split between parsley and thyme.

I haven't played with water gardens at all. A friend of mine grows watercress for the market, though, and he does it just by keeping the flat wet. If you want I'll get all the details from him. But it sounds like you've got the system pretty much down pat.
 
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Not much to update, HomeMadeCook. Everything is growing like gangbusters. The lavender is starting to bloom. Thyme went though a flowering stage, which is absolutely beautiful when you have a group of plants close together like that. And the tarragon is actually doing better in those block-hole containers than it did when in its own pot.

All in all I'm pleased with both the design and how effective it is.
 
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G'Day All,

You've mentioned Tarragon. That sounds interesting! Where do you exactly use that particular plant? I noticed, that most of the herbs you grown are best for culinary enhancement. You don't need to have a concrete block for those actually, they are considered as easy grown herbs. I have them indoors actually.

________________

Carmel Santos
CEO of Herb Gardening Guide
The Australian Guide to Herb Gardening


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You don't need to have a concrete block for those

Of course not. It's presented as one alternative to an outdoor bed. If you read my first post (let alone all the other herb-growing threads on this forum) you'd have understood that.

I also grow herbs indoors, particularly over the winter. And I grow a lot of others in addition to the ones specified. This is a cooking site, for instance, so there's no need discussing the medicinals.

The new bed I've been discussing, if you haven't noticed, is primarily for perennial herbs that are hardy here in Kentucky. The basil is the one noteable exception. And it's my "kitchen garden" bed; that is, it's only a few steps away so that the herbs are immediatly available all the time.

Tarragon, which grows long, thin leaves, has a slight licorishy flavor, similar to anise. It goes particularly well with fish, eggs and lamb, and is the basic flavor in the classic Sauce Bernaise and Sauce Estragon.

I'm surprised that somebody claiming to have the "ultimate" knowledge of herb gardening didn't know that.
 
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The concrete blocks are a great idea! Thanks, KY.

Around here another benefit might be easy slug control, for plants that slugs like to eat. I bet strips of copper around the blocks would work really well to keep them away, as long as the plants don't touch the ground or something.
 
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You're probably right, OY. I would mount them to the outside of the blocks, maybe an inch above ground level. Then, to be doubly safe, maybe another ribbon of them a couple of inches below the top of the block.

Frankly, the single row near ground level should be all you need.

I would probably attach the strips with longish brass screws. Drill a pilot hole and the screws should drill right in.

Just make sure there are no plants overhanging the block bed (or growing taller than the copper strips), cuz the slimies could use those as ladders.
 
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