Starting My Herb Garden
Who doesn’t love the smell of a beautiful herb garden not to mention the taste of freshly cut herbs!
A few years ago, I wrote about how I assembled my Gronomics raised garden bed boxes. You can read more on this in my article, Our Gronomics Raisde Garden Beds (with Assembly Instructions and Pics!)
For several reasons we do not want to plant directly in our yard, and I was looking to expand beyond the small pots, hanging baskets and window boxes I had at the time.
So after assembling my new garden boxes, it was time to plant my new herb garden! I’m going to show you exactly what I fill my boxes with and it may surprise you to learn that it’s NOT garden soil! But first, let’s talk fertilizers.
No More Chemical Fertilizers!
When I’ve gardened in the past, I always just used Miracle Gro potting mix. I figured it was good because it already had fertilizers in it…just dump it in the pot and plant.
Last year, when I started learning more about chemical fertilizers, I began to change my mind. In Episode 037 of the Vegetarian Zen Podcast, we touch on some of the damage that chemical fertilizers do to the environment.
With this in mind, I went online in search of a natural fertilizer- and pesticide-free alternative to plant my little green leafy ones in. What I came up with was a mixture of coco fibers (aka coco peat, coco coir) and organic composted material.
The coco fibers are sold in compressed bricks of varying weights. The one I used this time is Worm Factory Coconut Coir Growing Medium. It came as a 5-pack of 650-gram bricks. These fibers are a byproduct of manufacturing by industries that use coconuts (think hanging garden baskets, door mats, etc). The fibers biodegrade after about twenty years, making them a natural and sustainable planting option — they’ll be useful in the short-term but not have long-term negative impacts on the environment.
Here’s how I use coco fibers and compost to create a planting matrix for my herbs and flowers:
Expand the Coco Fiber Bricks
- Remove the bricks from their packaging and place in a large tub.
- Add water to the bricks: start with 2 gallons of water for each 650-gram brick. You can always add a little more water if needed, or drain off some water if you add too much.
- Allow at least 30 minutes for the coco fiber bricks to expand.
- Stir periodically to ensure that all fibers are fully expanded.
Make the Planting Matrix
- Use a good-quality organic compost material. If you compost at home, definitely use your own. We don’t have a composter at this time, so I buy organic, locally-composted material.
- Ratio of expanded coco fibers to compost is 1:2. I use a small bucket to measure.
- Combine your coco fibers and compost in a larger bucket or pot and mix well.
Once you’ve mixed your planting matrix, you can use it either to amend existing matrix in your containers or start fresh in empty pots. If I’m adding a few herbs or flowers to a pot or bed that already has established plants, I’ll usually mix some fresh matrix into what is already there before placing the new plants.
Lastly, although organic compost will help give your plants a boost, you should still fertilize with an organic fertilizer.
As I said in my review of the Gronomics elevated bed, I think it is a great product. I now have two of them, and they’ve held up incredibly well over the years.
Both are still solid and sturdy, despite having been subjected to both extreme South Texas heat (for months on end!), drenching rains, and freezing temperatures. I highly recommend them. The Gronomics brand also includes other sizes and types of planting boxes as well.
We hoped this has inspired you to start your own organic herb garden!