Start Growing an Herb Garden, Not Killing One

Posted on Jun 8 2009 - 5:00am by Mike Lieberman

It’s been a rainy week here in Seattle, I mean New York, so I haven’t been paying much mind to the vegetables out on my fire escape.

When I finally checked on them, I was happy to see that the lettuces, peppers and tomatoes looked pretty healthy. Then I looked above them and noticed the sad, sad sight of the herb garden I started to grow in the upside down vegetable planters. They looked the opposite of healthy – dead.

Here’s what I think contributed to my massacre of the herbs:

My surgeon like touch. Much like planting vegetables, you need to be gentle when transplanting the herbs. Let’s just say if I was playing Operation, I would’ve lost and lost quickly.

The soil was too heavy. I used the first batch of potting soil that I made myself. It might’ve been too heavy, retained too much water and over saturated the herbs.

The planters just don’t work. I think this is the least likely of the reasons, but it still needs to be considered.

I think it’s a combination of the first two that lead to the ultimate demise of the herbs. I am heading out of town later this week, for a few days (Bonaroo). When I get back, I’ll get some more herbs set up and planted.

Hopefully, if any of you were thinking about starting to grow your own herb garden, this hasn’t discouraged you. Take this knowledge and use it to your advantage.

Even though the upside down vegetable planters haven’t worked out so far, the self watering containers are doing real well. Peep this video:


  • madpanic

    cool man…take some pics at bonaroo!!

  • Gardengrrrl

    I think your little basil might have drowned in that upside down container. I'm not convinced by those things. What's the benefit to growing things upside down? It just seems to make the plant work harder. The plants want to grow up, not down.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Definitely think that it drowned. The potting soil that I used was the first batch that I made, so I don't think it allowed for much water flow and drainage.

    With my limited space on my fire escape, I kind of need to grow the herbs in these. I'll give it another go with lighter soil and see what happens.

  • Mike Lieberman

    It's going to be an RV trip for my buddy's bachelor party. Definitely good times to be had.

  • Making Love In The Kitchen

    The greens look so great. And now I won't feel so bad when I soon kill my herbs. Enjoy the music festival! If you meet a guy named Dave down there from Toronto- stay away. Trouble I tell you!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Nah, your herbs will do just fine. No doubt.

    What are the chances of me running into a dude named Dave from Toronto?!? But if I do, I'll definitely run.

  • Making Love In The Kitchen

    Weirder things have happened. Just consider yourself warned 😉 Have an awesome time!

  • Kate

    Hey! Great post. I'm working on a similar vegetable garden in Washington, D.C. and am blogging about my adventures, too. Just added you to the blogroll!


  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks Kate. Glad to hear that someone else is getting their urban gardening on too.

    Your last post on pests is timely because someone just emailed me as asked about deterring squirrels. I forwarded along your post.

  • escuccim

    I am successfully growing basil on my back porch. I am growing it right-side up, in store bought potting soil mixed with some peat moss from failed growing attempts. When there is sun, which is not much lately, the basil is in the sun all day and the soil gets very dry. I have to water it almost every day. If I miss a day where it needs water the plant starts to get droopy and if I miss another day… Well I've never missed two days.

  • Mike Lieberman

    I think this weekend I am going to give the upside down herb planters another go. Think I know my errors from last time.

  • Pingback: Starting an Upside Down Herb Garden | Urban Organic Gardener()

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