How To Plant A Herb Garden for $18


First of all, you should know that I struggled with whether to call this post "How to Plant a Herb Garden for $18" or "How to Plant an Herb Garden for $18," the former being far more natural to us Brits, seeing as we actually pronounce the "h" in herb. Why do we pronounce the "h" in herb, you ask? Well, if you'll excuse my language, I'd like to paraphrase the great Eddie Izzard: because there's a fucking "h" in it.

Anyway, the other day I was at Lowe's---this, by the way, is akin to a normal person saying "the other day I was in my kitchen," that's how much time I've spent at Lowe's over the last six months: it's basically just a part of my home now---and I spotted these sad little rose plants in very cheery little yellow pots. The rose plants were so sad, you guys. I mean, these rose plants had just found out that their wife was sleeping with the tennis coach, the roof had sprung a leak, and they owed the IRS fourteen thousand dollars in back taxes. They were pitiful. These rose plants were one Jack and Coke away from climbing up on stage and singing the blues with BB King and then regretting it in the morning.

And so naturally I bought them. Why? Well, because of the cheery yellow pots, of course! The cheery yellow pots were adorable and I knew I could find a use for them. They'd been marked down from $8.98 to $4 and finally Lowe's had just given up on them and slashed them again to $2, so I bought four of these sad rose plants in their cheery yellow pots for a grand total of eight bucks. Is that a bargain or what? Just to be sure, I checked out the other little pots in the garden aisle and the cheapest ones they had were around five dollars, and they weren't even cheery or yellow! So I made my way to the checkout with my self-proclaimed score, secure in the fact that I was---in the words of our very own national treasure Charlie Sheen---DUH, WINNING.

(Yes, it is very important to me to be winnning the very prestigious and well-known Who Can Buy The Cheapest Pots competition. Clearly I need to get out more, and not to Lowe's.)

When I got home, I salvaged the few respectable roses that were left---and we're talking only barely respectable, like maybe a hooker who only does it so she can give the money to charity, or that dress your mother let you wear to prom as long as you promised to relinquish all rights to a trust fund---and scattered them in little vintage juice glasses about my house.

Like here is one on my kitchen counter:

And here is one, a little worse for wear, on my desk:

Here is the same one on my desk, but hey, now check out my awesome collection of Sharpies:

Actually, check out my whole desk. Do you care what my desk looks like? It looks like this. This is where the magic happens, baby. And by "magic," I mean blog posts where I admit to a curious satisfaction at buying cheap plant pots and then use that Charlie Sheen quote everyone else was using two weeks ago.

The other thing I found in Lowe's while I was buying the sad two-dollar rose plants in the cheery yellow pots was a crazy good deal on herbs: you could get four for $10, and so I chose basil, rosemary, sage, and mint (for caprese salad, stew, butternut squash soup, and mojitos, respectively) and after I'd got home and disposed of the remains of the sad rose plants, I set about potting the herbs in their new cheery yellow pots.

And then I put them on my windowsill! In time, once we get the back yard sorted out, I'll take them out of the pots and replant them in the ground---probably not without watching a few dozen YouTube videos on how to do it first---but until then, I've got a makeshift herb garden right outside my kitchen window, and it makes me happy every time I remember it. Actually, we lost the basil to a rather sudden and severe hailstorm a few days ago, so I try not to think about that too much---RIP, basil, I shall pour out some MiracleGro for you---but the rest of them are doing okay so far, and three out of four ain't bad.

Mar 30, 2011

If you decide to plant the mint in the ground, make sure it is in its own little bed. Mint will spread and try to take over more than just about anything else, so unless you want your whole yard to be mint, play it safe and put it someplace contained. Like a wee mint playpen.

Eat Drink Nola
Mar 31, 2011

I love your intro because the first thing I thought was of course "oh, she forgot an "n" there," followed by "oh wait, she's british!"

I love Eddie Izzard. He should be president, king, what have you.

Pretty pictures!

Mar 31, 2011

Seconded what MLE said about the mint. What many people do is just repot mint into a much larger pot, so it has room to grow and put that outside. Or, if you really want it in the ground, pot it on into large plastic plant pot, and then bury the whole thing into your herb bed. The mint will look as though it's growing in the bed with the other herbs, but the roots will be contained and stop it taking over and strangling everything else.

Basil tends to be fairly fragile. I would consider keeping this inside on your kitchen windowsill, rather than having it outside. It's very prone to dying due to lack of water/too much water and slugs and snails love it. Also having it inside is great for just ripping leaves off to add to whatever you're making.

If you're in the mood to add more herbs, thyme, bay and lavender are all great. Ok, actually lavender is not thaaat useful in cooking, but it looks so pretty and smells so lovely.

Hmm. Apparently I have many thoughts about the care and feeding of herbs.

Mar 31, 2011

The moment I hit play on the video, my husband (who is sitting behind me, facing his desk on the opposite wall), busts out, "Because there's a fucking H in it!"

We might love Eddie a little more than is normal around here.

(Love the posts and herbs and also your handwriting!)

Mar 31, 2011

I'm so glad that you led with that point about grammar and British pronunciation, because I spent a solid five seconds debating whether or not you were wrong, whether or not you had a good reason to be wrong, and whether or not I should attempt to correct you. Because I can't abide an internet where people are wrong.

Also, I wonder how many adjectives you tested in the title in an attempt to avoid the ambiguity of that h.

Mar 31, 2011

I did almost the exact same thing recently and I have kept my herbs alive in the kitchen bay window for something like 3 or 4 weeks so far. I am very, very impressed with myself.

Mar 31, 2011

I too am a lover of Lowes. Especially since I got a rolling greenhouse for $46! Right now I have all of my little seedlings in it, just waiting until they're hardy enough to plant outside :-).

Mar 31, 2011

Very nice and springy. I need to get on the garden thing this year. Thanks for the inspiration.

Mar 31, 2011

We bought the cutest twee little little rosemary bush around Christmas--shaped like a Christmas tree, no less--and decorated it with tiny little ornaments and it was just so adorable. And then two weeks later it almost completely died back, despite lots of watering and coaxing and googling. Then it started growing again, in a completely crazy shape and only from the top of the plant, so that it was no longer cute and Christmas-tree shaped, instead it looked more like something from a Dr. Seuss book. And then very suddenly, practically overnight, it developed this white fuzz on every single leaf/spear thing, like it suddenly had a terrible case of dandruff. Google wasn't much help with THAT issue either, and we decided that we didn't want to eat Rosemary dandruff, so we just threw the whole thing out. It'll break your heart, is all I'm saying. Be warned.

Mar 31, 2011

those ARE adorable pots. and i love your desk!

Mar 31, 2011

As well as mojitos, you make lovely tea with mint leaves - simply pick five or six, crush them lightly to release the oils, pop in a teapot and add boiling water. Delicious!

My no. 1 tip for basil is to water it from underneath as they hate getting their feet wet, so something like a moistened piece of kitchen roll does the trick nicely. Disclaimer: I have still never succeeded in keeping one alive for more than 2 months.

Mar 31, 2011

Actually, a lot of USians pronounce "herbs" with the "h" also. For instance, see: Martha Stewart.

And most dictionaries DO list 'herb' as an alternate U.S. pronunciation.

A. Marigold
Mar 31, 2011

Rosemary is also a crazy grower. My MIL practically has a rosemary hedge in her backyard, crowding out her flowers. But it smells BEAUTIFUL! Just don't forget to use it. :)

By the by, the "word" verification is nearly all symbols today (except for one numeral at the very end), and I very nearly thought your blog was cursing at me. ;)

Mar 31, 2011

Rosemary does incredibly well in SF. We're in the outer richmond, and the neighbor's rosemary bush has grown into a rosemary tree and hangs over into our yard. We use copious amounts and it always still needs trimming.

Mar 31, 2011

I love the yellow pots, and your H-erb garden, but I am really amazed at the sight of your desk. Is it seriously this clean and tidy all the time, or did you clean it up for the photo shoot? Mine is a mess - even when it is tidy!

Mar 31, 2011

Hahaha, thanks! No, it usually looks like that. I hate having a bunch of stuff on it! I save that for my desk at work, which is an absolute tip.

Mar 31, 2011

As someone who compares the cost of rice, per ounce, to find the best deal, I completely understand the desire to be the best at finding cheap pots. WINNING!

Also, my hhhherb garden-- that's me, pronouncing the 'h' because pronouncing it 'urb' starts to sound froglike after repeating it several times-- includes mint exclusively for mojitos and mint juleps (Should it be any other way??). Here's to us both having fresh drinks and rosemary cashews instead of caprese in a few months!

Mar 31, 2011

Question: You have a cat, yes? How do you keep your cat from casually snacking on your plants? My cats sees a plant and thinks it is a delicious buffet he must knock over.

Mar 31, 2011

Yes please, Holly let us know how you keep the felinus nomtacular from chomping the URBs...

Mar 31, 2011

Amy and Scottsdale Girl: I keep the plants out on the windowsill (there's a ledge so the cats can't get them unless the window's open!

Mar 31, 2011

You intro me to Eddie several years ago now. I was living overseas and had VERY spotty internet so I watched a short youtube clip and was amused but that was it. Then recently I saw him recommended for me on netflix and we watched his "Dressed to Kill" show, I think it was, and now we're big fans. My teenaged son is constantly quoting him. "Obviously Hitler never played Risk as a child..." "we conquered through stragetic use of flags..." "death or cake" etc. Sorry don't know why I'm quoting him in your comments. What I'm trying to say is THANK YOU!

Shut The Folk Up
Mar 31, 2011

You know what, I think there is something a little bit beautifully poetic about the moribundity of your roses.

Thank you, Holly, for giving them one final moment in the spotlight, even if they did have to share it with BB King.

Mar 31, 2011

Oooh, is your butternut squash soup recipe linkable?!

Mar 31, 2011

I am in love with your desk, and everything on it. Now I will picture you sitting there writing these awesome blog posts in the city of my birth! I also love your handwriting...I must practice mine now.

Savvy in San Francisco
Mar 31, 2011

I am so curious to see if your herbs stay alive. I have tried to have a little herb garden in my kitchen window twice and they always end up dying. Not sure what I am doing wrong, but I would so love to be able to pick fresh herbs to cook with! Good luck! Love the yellow pots!

Amy in StL
Apr 01, 2011

I have a basil plant that my boyfriend planted from seed and from what I understand they don't like to be replanted. Something about fragile stems or roots or something, but that's why it's in an ugly pot and I'm hoping it makes it until I can put it outside where it was happy. I also have a mint plant that said "mojito mint" on the little tag at the nursery. I have no idea how the nursery folks know I drink mojitos.

Apr 01, 2011

How did you pronounce the plant which met its unfortunate early demise?
Or BAH-sil?
Curious minds want to know.

Anne in SC
Apr 01, 2011

The last time you posted Eddie Izzard I wasted a good amount of time watching every youtube clip of his that I could find - HE IS HILARIOUS!!!

Love your herb pots - love the cute rose remains! Good buy all the way around!

Apr 01, 2011

I loved this post. Simply funny as, well, you know. As soon as I start cooking again, I plan to take your advice.

Apr 03, 2011

I have two questions:

1. Why do you store your beloved sharpies with the writing end up (thus gravity-draining the ink away from the tip)?

2. Why do Brits pronounce the letter "a" like "ah" everywhere EXCEPT where other people do? Prime example: I say "aafter" and you say "ahfter"... but the italian food we all love to put sauce on is pronounced "pahsta" by the Italians (and the rest of the world), but the Brits call it "paasta". What's up with that? Why not just keep on using the "ah" sound?

Just wondering.

Jennifer R
Apr 04, 2011

Eddie Izzard, OMG yes
Love love love him
Oh so so so much

It's nice to see (hear?) other people like him as much as I do

I could quote him all day

Apr 04, 2011

Holly--please tell me how you keep your cats from eating the herb plants? Mine tackle Rosemary and Basil like I tackle a pizza....

Cake or Death!!

Apr 06, 2011

I must make my own potted herb garden! It's on my To Do list. Your desk is cute and I'm so glad your cat is getting better. Wishing him a speedy recovery!

Apr 06, 2011

If you treasure your herb garden do not, I repeat, DO NOT, go to Argentina for two months and trust that your roommates will water it. They will not. And believe me, herbs need water at some point, in the expanse of two month. Hopefully yours will be happy and cheeky and alive for a long time!


Where did you get your office chair, and would it be possible to get one here?? (i.e. Is the store online or in North Carolina and not some fancy boutique in California and is it not $8 million?)

Try again with the basil - it's not too late! I pretty much have black thumbs, and both years I tried it, my basil almost looked like a bush by the end of the year. I couldn't keep up with it.

Also, if you like caprese salads, try these puppies out:

Nothing But Bonfires
Apr 07, 2011

Katie, my desk chair is this one from Overstock!


Thank you!!

Tami A.
Apr 09, 2011

First, as soon as my son is out of earshot, I'm clicking on that link.
Second, I found that very same cheery yellow pot in a small store in West Portal a few months ago. It had purple little flowers which are now dead. But the herbs garden is a great idea, I might have to swing by Lowe's and see if they have any more of those pots.

Apr 12, 2011

Im just wondering how you pronounce Lowe's? Do you say "low-ees"? ;-)

Dang I crack myself up!

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