Growing Herbs in Whisky Barrel
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Shirley Heroux
Posted on: April 17, 2003

My husband just ordered the "Richters Gift Collection of Live Herbs" for me as a gift because I want an herb garden. This will be the first year that I do any gardening in my life (I came from Taiwan where the land is rather limited). The soil we have is heavily clay; however we do have quite a bit of west sun in the yard (zone 5). I have a half whisky barrel that I can use in the garden. Is it a good idea to use it to grow herbs? How does it compare with a flower bed? What would be the best way to prepare the soil for it? Can I fit the whole "gift collection" in one barrel? If not, what would be the best way to arrange them?

Growing some of the herbs in the whiskey barrel will provide a charming focal point to your planting. Add lots of sharp sand and compost or peat moss to your clay soil to ensure good drainage. If your soil is very heavy, you may have to add equal quantities of sand and compost to the clay.

The soil in the garden will have to be augmented in a similar way. Any plants grown in the soil will have slightly more even moisture and cooler roots than those grown in the barrel. Since the bay laurel and the rosemary have to come in for the winter in zone 5, they would be good candidates for the barrel - lending it more height and providing good texture contrast. You might also like to add English thyme and winter savory to drape over the sides. A fifth plant could be either sorrel or garlic chives. The rest of the plants will probably have to go into the garden to prevent overcrowding.

Anything you plant in the garden will grow more vigorously because the roots have more room and more even moisture.

Besides the 12 plants, I also plan to grow several varieties of chili peppers and basils from seeds. I intend to expand my garden yearly as I gain more experience, so a little encouragement, by doing things right the first time, will certainly help. I would greatly appreciate detailed instructions as well as any additional information/sites I can get.

Do check out our web-site at www.richters.com . In the "News & Info" section the "Q&A" part and the "Magazine Rack" contain many tips for new gardeners.

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