Sharon Smith and Mary Wilhite of Blue Moon Gardens in Edom, Texas, prepare containers for herbs.

For the Kitchen
Credit: Sarah Kerver

Spring is full of possibilities, both for plants and for weather. Here in East Texas, as you well know, one day basks in sunny, short-sleeve warmth, while you may need a jacket the next.

Herbs can thrive in such changing conditions. Here at Blue Moon Gardens, we have grown them for almost 25 years and we never tire of them. Given the right conditions--plenty of sun and good drainage--they will last for years and withstand extreme temperatures.

We love growing herbs in containers such as ceramic pots that provide controlled drainage. Pots also give you the opportunity to keep your herbs close to your kitchen where you can snip them for use in cooking. Which herbs do you select? Rosemary, thyme, oregano, certain selections of lavender, parsley and sage survive our winter weather without ill effects. They provide great color and texture to a mixed container and present a variety of textures and tastes.

One of our favorites that is not so well-known is salad burnet. The serrated, evergreen leaves offer a nice texture, and add a mild cucumber flavor to salads or cream cheese sandwich fillings. Drought-tolerant, salad burnet flourishes in most Texas gardens.

Growing Container Herbs
Here's how to grow herbs in a container. Remember, many flourish quickly, and some, such rosemary, get very large.
1. Start with a good-size pot, at least 14 inches in diameter.
2. Fill it with a good quality potting soil, and plant several herbs together.
3. Leave an inch of space between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot for a "water well."
4. If the herbs become too crowded after a few months, dig one or two out of the pot, and plant them in their own container, leaving the empty space for the remaining plants to fill in.

Container herbs present such a pretty bouquet in shades of green, and provide quick access when you're ready to snip some for the kitchen.

Blue Moon Gardens: or (903) 852-3897.

"Container Gardening - For the Kitchen" is from the May 2008 issue of Texas Living: People & Places, a special section of Southern Living for our subscribers in Texas.