Best Comment on Whether to Plant Herbs in Containers or Ground, Solo or with Company

from http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/herbs/msg051121358635.html

response to a question re whether to plant herbs alone or together, in ground or in containers (obviously I’m trying to make this decision today, and will prob. do a mix of in ground and in planters based on this)…

RE: herbs in containers vs in the ground
 

 

I was once told by an old and very experienced horticulturist that ‘God didn’t make pots, and he didn’t make houses, either!’. Which was his way of saying that neither is a natural ‘home’ for plants.

I’ve learned that he was right – up to a point. Herbs WILL grow in pots, as long as you remember that pots are high maintenance.

They need special potting mix, not garden soil which will compact down to rock-hardness very quickly. They need more water, more fertiliser and occasional repotting either to replace dead soil, or to allow the plant to spread a bit more. You see, keeping plants in pots is not unlike keeping a canary in a cage. It doesn’t have the space to spread out as far as it would do in the garden, and that means it will rarely or never get to optimum size, and it will never become truly independent of your care.

Now, my experience is that those multiple-planted pots you see in plant nurseries are very nice for gift-giving, but they are only very temporary arrangements. Plants, like people, like their own space, especially when it’s limited, and they’ll fight for it. One plant will always out-compete another over time – either by its roots choking out the others, or by more successfully accessing the water and nutrients. So it’s something I never recommend.

For a beginner, especially, you need to learn about the individual requirements of all your plants – things like room to move, sunlight, water, fertiliser etc. This is easiest to do if you have one plant per pot.

Another thing is that most beginners are surprised to learn just how BIG most herbs can get! Take a look at this picture (link below), with my rosemary in the background. It has grown considerably since the photo was taken, and gets a regular drastic haircut to keep it to manageable size in my very small garden. My basils get almost as big.

Plants have an effective way of telling you when they’re not happy. They sulk, then they die, just to spite you! Watch them, and listen to them as individuals. One might be perfectly happy in a pot (for a while), while another will hate it. One might be very comfortable on your back porch, while another might really yearn to be out in the garden doing its thing.

You’ve started off wisely by giving them large pots. The babies might look a little lost at first, but you’ll be rewarded in the end by much happier plants. Don’t force friendships between them, however – keep each plant in its own separate housing arrangements! The plant world is a very competitive one, and they fight to the death!

 

Here is a link that might be useful: rosemary

My California Gold

Guess what I brought back from CA? My cousin, Diane, who looks as great at 50 something as she did in pics from her 20s, has turned me on to kefir. Starting my first batch brewing now…

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As her instructions note, the grains will behave differently in a new environment. To give them a kick start, I used bottled mineral water (2 c.), deleted 4 T. of white sugar and 1 T. molasses in it. Added a touch of fleur de sel for more minerality to aid the kefir’s processing of the sugars. I put that in a container, covered it with cheesecloth and will check in on it this time tomorrow.

Hello, kefir adventure!

Fellow revelers, anyone else into this stuff? Why/why not? How do you take yours? Any tips to trade? Go ahead… Gimme the dirt!

You, Me and Black Widow Spider Makes Three (hundred or more)

My partner thinks I got side track distracted. Asked me if looking up black widow spiders was on my to do list. I think it’s become an annual ritual for me, since when I started to enter “how to recognize a bl,” Google filled in the rest with “ack widow spider.” Surprised, it only took a second before I remembered the night my partner was away at a conference and I was desperately scouring the Internet for any images that might be similar to the little thing with a red dot I had caught from my kid’s bed and held captive under a water glass.

But this one was much closer to the real thing. The one from before, I finally concluded it was a harmless-enough spider that had some red markings but was much too small to be a black widow and was described by others with enough proximity to mine that I did not rush Lil Bit to the hospital.

But, as for this one. Also a probably not. But still. Maybe just a maybe not. But still. I only took the pic because the image of the spider there on the porch wall I share with my neighbors was striking. I thought it looked like a shadow and was playing camouflage (not very well) with the other shadows. But as I walked into the house, I realized it looked kind of familiar. Last time, I spent several hours analyzing spider images on the web. Tonight, I had one of those moments – like when you pass someone on the street and only recognize after it’s too late that it was Steve Buscemi. Or something like that. I knew I had seen that spider somewhere before. (No offense, Mr. Buscemi, you’re kinda kinky weird and all, and even have a bit of a spider look about you, but I would never assume you had much in common with a black widow. If you do, I don’t want to know. I like you with just the right amount of weird you have now — no more, no less).

So, although my partner thinks this is not a black widow because it doesn’t have the telltale markings, my renewed online search instructs me that the markings on the female (the more dangerous of the genders, at least twice the size of the male) are typically only on her belly. This particular spider wasn’t flashing me. Side note — c’mon, amazing wonderful Internet — isn’t there some other way to recognize the world’s deadliest spider for pete’s sake? Mcbrooklyn blogger at least points out that if you’re close enough to see the red, you’re closer than you should be. At least the NYT has a post online about how to recognize when you’ve been bitten by a black widow. Running a pic along with that article might help. Being that I couldn’t see this spider’s underbelly, I don’t know if it was or wasn’t a black widow. Apparently there was an influx of the unwanted tourist last summer. And this one was spotted by an old wood log that was deteriorating in the crook between my neighbor’s porch and my front yard — which describes precisely the environment black widows love.

After coming across one article about a woman in the U.K. who almost died by being bitten by a false widow spider, I’ve decided I’m not as fond of spiders as I once was. I used to believe they were a good omen, and even let one remain rent free in the web it wove on my patio door. But now, I’m removing my welcome mat. What’s left of that wooden log that once looked so charming in my yard (yes, I am having one of those what-was-I-thinking moments) is as good as gone. And now I’m scouring the Internet for natural spider repellants. I’ve been on a lemon kick lately (one glass of water with the juice of one lemon gets me halfway to the two glasses that I hear will kick start your metabolism and help you burn fat all day, the lazy way). So I’ve got lots of lemon rind in the fridge and freezer just waiting to be put to use. According to this WikiHow, they’ll make the perfect natural spider repellant. So, take that all you faking me out maybe being deadly predators spiders!

How about you, revelers? Any other sightings? You know how it goes … go ahead, gimme the dirt!

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