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May 18, 2014 07:42 AM

Herb gadening in the SW and Southern California. Success? Failure?

Hi all. I'm starting this thread as an offshoot from a home cooking discussion on trying to grow herbs under the bright sun and relentless heat. Not just here is the US, but for anyone with these conditions.
Be it in the ground or in containers, please share your successes, failures, recommendations and tips here. Maybe we can all have some success at growing our own yummy herbs!!

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  1. Oh, I should probably start.
    My name's al, and I'm an herboholic. Gardening conditions: Phoenix, south facing patio and indoor "greenhouse" in room with large S and W facing windows. All containers.
    Last year and so far this year, I've found that basil and Thai basil do well largely indoors. Chives, mint, and dill are the same. Outdoors, rosemary, thyme and oregano and lemongrass (my fave).
    Cilantro: no bueno. Just absolutely turns to sludge mid-May.
    I also do potted tomatoes with ripening in May, and various hot peppers and ginger outside and a kaffir lime tree largely inside with success.
    No fertilizer, but 3x daily light watering and I rotate things in and out of the sun.
    Last year was my first year doing desert pot gardening, and I'm doing a lot better this year after trial and error.
    Looking forward to seeing what people have living and dying.

    1. Hi Allie!

      Well, after a week of 95-105 degree temps here in L.A., my veggie garden in the backyard (in direct sun) is looking pretty worn out.

      I keep my herbs on the front porch since it's partial shade and they tend to thrive there. As I said in the other thread, my rosemary is strewn about the property in GIANT bushes that do well no matter what. Which is nice. I can grab some fresh rosemary any time of year.

      I do love L.A. because the "seasonal" gardening necessary elsewhere doesn't really apply. I planted an herb garden mid-winter which did so well in a large planter that I couldn't keep up with it and had to start over (first pic).

      Although I usually start my basil plants from seed, this week I just went and bought a little one, along with a cilantro plant (for the bf--he could eat it as a salad and I hate buying it all the time) and some chives. Each got their own little pot and I placed them on the railing in front. Here, they get several hours of direct sun per day. So long as they are watered judiciously (sometimes every other day, sometimes 2 times per day), they do VERY well. I also have a tomato plant which was purposely planted in a little planter... The plants I stick in my raised beds in back do so well that they turn into these completely unmanageable behemoths which shower dozens of tomatoes on me daily. I can never keep up with them.

      The hardest thing for me in terms of herb gardening is remembering/making the time to prune the leaves appropriately to promote growth and prevent flowering. 2 years ago, I had 3 basil plants from seed on the front porch that turned into HUGE bushes and I just could no longer keep up with the time it took, nor make use of the basil.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nothingswrong

        I should add that I'm a total neophyte when it comes to gardening. I've been growing various veggies/herbs/fruits for the last few years in my (rental) house but I'm terrible at keeping them. Don't know much about it. I just see that plants+good soil+water+sun=food. So I roll with it. I'd like to learn beginner's tips on keeping my herbs more than several months at a time.

      2. Allie- I cannot relate to the heat as I'm in boston, but I'm a terrible gardener and have resorted to only containers. One day, I dream of raised beds, but for now it's enough to coax tomatoes and lettuce out of my sad plants.

        4 Replies
        1. re: gini

          Will you explain what each plant is?

          Left container: Parsley/cilantro? And basil I recognize.

          Center container: ?

          Top container: Lettuces?

          Right top container: ?

          Right bottom container: Tomatoes??

          1. re: nothingswrong

            Left container: Basil and flat leaf parsley
            Center container: Mint and cilantro
            Top container: red romain, green lettuce, spinach
            Right top round: lavender, rosemary, purple basil
            Right bottom round: cherry tomatoes

            1. re: gini

              Mmm, purple basil. I haven't seen any at the gardening center nearby and used up all my seeds last year. I'm going to buy some more!

              I think your garden looks wonderful btw.

        2. I'm in north inland San Diego county, and my herbs grow in full sun (at least 12-15 hrs of sun a day). They do fine. Cilantro can poop out in just a few weeks, but I re-seed it frequently. Sadly, my sweet basil is already beginning to flower, so I have to keep it pinched often.

          Perennials, for me, include: dill, parsley, chives, thyme, oregano. As nothingswrong wrote, rosemary is a huge bush, so it's available year round, too.

          We use drip irrigation on the entire yard (xeriscaped, mostly, with drought tolerant stuff, all of which attracts butterflies & hums), so we don't have to fuss with watering the herbs. When the veggies (tomatoes, eggplant, green peppers, jalapenos, cucumbers, okra) droop in the afternoon, they may get a special bucket of water.

          1. II am near Sacramento. Redwoods suck the life out of most things, so at this point I do mostly self watering planters. Exceptions are rosemary, oregano and thyme.

            Garlic, shallots, chives, parsley, green onions, cilantro in the winter. Winter savory, oregano year round. Basil, cuban oregano, and mint in the summer. Last year was my first with mint.So so.

            Trying to master tarragon.