Some of the most perishable types of produce are herbs and edible flowers, which can translate to frequent trips to the grocery store to stock fresh ones. With stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the best time to start growing your own supply.
Herb and flower gardens come in many shapes and sizes. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences Junior Extension Agent Russell Galanti notes his favorite herbs to grow include cilantro, green onions, mints and Hawaiian chili peppers. Thai basil is an excellent choice because it grows well in tropical climates compared to the more common European basils. The same is true for Hawaiian chili peppers compared to other pepper varieties.
Edible flowers are a beautiful and tasty option for companion planting in herb gardens. Nasturtium is an edible flower that is easy to grow in just about any home garden. It can produce more than 70 flowers a week. Marigolds are another edible flower, and also repels nematodes and other insect pests.
Planting your garden
Creating a containerized herb garden is as easy as finding an appropriate pot, some soil and a water source. Plastic planters designed for planting are best, but almost any container can be used. Be sure the planters have not been treated with chemicals to prevent decay and are not made of leachable chemicals that are bad for plants and people.
Containers must drain easily and not allow standing water. They must be large enough to allow the herbs’ roots to grow for long periods of time. The larger the container, the longer the plant can grow without becoming root bound, and ultimately, the less often you will have to water. For best results, use potting soil or mix garden soil with potting soil or cinder.
The fastest way to start an herb and edible flower garden at home is to purchase starter plants from a local nursery. Herbs can be grown from seed, but they usually require about three extra weeks before harvest, compared to starter plants.