Wine Cellars

What Herbs Do Well in Shallow Soil?

Most herbs don’t require deep dirt to be productive. They can even grow well in containers on balconies, patios and sunny kitchen windowsills. Depending on type, herbs that do well in shallow dirt require no more than 3 to 12 inches of soil for rooting. Outdoors in the ground , they might stretch their roots a bit deeper, but many herbs are adaptable as long as they receive adequate water, heat, sunlight and nutrients.

Defining Soil Depth

Soil thickness in the garden is determined by the distance from the surface of the soil to some challenging layer outside which plant roots can not penetrate. This might be heavy clay, mud, gravel or bedrock. Agricultural extension services define “very shallow” soils like ones in which the surface is no more than 10 inches above the impermeable foundation. A window box or container will satisfy this description. “Shallow” soils are ones where roots meet resistance at a depth of 20 inches.

Shallow-Rooted Herbs

Chives (Allium spp.) Are an perfect plant for a kitchen windowsill garden as they’re tasty in many savory dishes including sandwich spreads, quiches and stir-fry dishes. According to the University of California Cooperative Extension, chive roots are the shortest of all at only 3 inches long. Oregano (Origanum x majoricum), tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) and thyme (Thymus spp.) Can all manage with 6 inches of wiggle room for their roots. Basil (Ocimum basilicum), cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), parsley (Petroselinum crispum) and summer savory (Satureja hortensis) make do with 8 inches. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is another popular indoor herb. However, it does best with at least 12 inches of root room.

Cultivation Needs

When planted outdoors, shallow-rooted herbs planted in the ground require more frequent watering than deep-rooted plants since the top foot of soil dries out more quickly than deeper levels. In containers, especially terra cotta ones where dirt parches quickly, herbs require even more regular watering. It’s a good idea on warm days to touch the dirt in pots at least two times per day. When it feels dry, water till you see excessive moisture flow from the bottom of the bud. Then, keep the soil lightly moist to the touch, but not soggy. Herbs require a location that supplies at least six hours of sunlight daily. Inside, a south-facing window is a good selection. Herbs can thrive even in poor garden soils, and they have access to nutrients when planted in the ground. For container-grown herbs, then use a potting mix that is well nourished with perlite. Feed your plants an all-purpose fertilizer at half power about once every 2 weeks. Fertilize less frequently for stronger taste.

Balcony Herb Gardens

Many herbs not only do well in shallow soils but also thrive in small spaces, such as on urban balconies. Pim Techamuanvivit of the Chez Pim website wanted a herb garden on her balcony but didn’t know how to begin. Then she discovered a tall strawberry pot, full of herbs and soil, at a local nursery. Strawberry pots are perfect for balcony herb gardens, since they contain numerous pockets in which to plant. Now Techamuanvivit has four kinds of basil fresh at hand as well as cilantro, mint, parsley, rosemary, tarragon and honey.

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