A few weeks ago I shared how to make an herb spiral in your backyard to save room and still grow all the herbs you ever wanted. And that was all good for those who a). have the time to build one, and b) who have the room to accommodate a spiral.
What about gardeners who have only have room for containers?
Well, the answer is to grow herbs in a wine barrel planter. There’s enough room in one of these tubs to cater for a few of your favourite herbs plus it won’t take up a large section of your backyard.
So here’s how to make one;
You will need to buy or source a half wine barrel either from your local nursery, landscaping centre or direct from a winery (if there are any close by). They're not usually to hard to come by and might be a little more expensive than a similar sized plastic pot but cheaper than an equivalent terracotta container.
The next step is to flip the wine barrel over and drill 5 decent sized holes in the bottom. These are for drainage and will allow any excess watering to run out of the tub without swamping the roots of your plants. Try and aim for the middle of the tub rather than putting them around the edges.
Flip the barrel back to its right side up and cover the holes with a piece of gauze or shadecloth. I’ve used a piece of flyscreen that was left over from another project. If possible, fold the gauze in half a couple of times and then place over the holes.
This is to allow the water to seep out without taking your potting mix with it. It will also keep the drainage holes unblocked.
Now it’s time to get your hands dirty. A normal wine barrel can hold approx. 205 litres (54 gallons) so half will hold more than 100L. Therefore, you will need about that much in volume of potting mix. These bags contained 30L each and I had to supplement them with about another 1/3 of a bag.
Before you begin adding the potting mix move your tub into it’s final location. Trying to move this after it’s full of soil and plants will be impossible without a trolley.
Pour the first two bags (60l) into the wine barrel. Start pouring in the third bag to bring the levels up to your plants.
Once the potting mix is in place, it’s time to start positioning your herbs. The feature of my wine barrel is a bay tree Laurus nobilis so this will take up the majority of my planter.
Place all your herbs in their positions after removing them from their nursery pots. Don’t start holding them in with soil yet as you want to take your time to a) move them around until you’re happy with the look and mix of foliages, flower colours etc, and b) you will need to lift them all up to a common height.
You can do this making little mounds of soil under their roots until they are all at the same height. This should be about the length of your middle finger below the rim.
Once they’re all in place you can begin filling in the spaces with the remaining potting mix. Water in well using a liquid fertiliser and your planter is now complete.