Unattended Herb Garden...Need Help!


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I'm interested in starting a small herb garden, but I have a number of fairly unique mitigating factors that are challenging me on how best to go about it:

  1. The garden will need to be completely self sufficient for a period of two weeks. I am away from home working for two week blocks at a time, then home for two weeks. I live alone and don't want to have somebody else come water, as I think that doing so is just too much to ask someone on such a regular basis.
  2. Indoors is a must. I am growing in Anchorage, AK, so the season is short (though with plentiful sun). My outdoor space is also extremely limited, with a mostly shaded or paved lot. I have an excellent ~4'x6' south facing window with no trees blocking the sun that I have allocated for this during the summer, and if I can create a system that works, I will get some artificial lighting for the long winter months. Expect 12-18 hours direct sunlight on a clear day from the time I can realistically get planted until the end of August.
So far, I have considered automatic watering timers, self watering containers, and hydroponic systems, but I'm not sure which will be the best options for each of the herbs I'm interested in. So far, here is what I've read on each one:

Rosemary: Needs well drained soil and dry roots, self watering containers are not suitable. Root mass can cause issues in hydroponic systems.

Basil, Mint, Chives: Easily grown in hydroponic systems or self watering containers.

Sage: Another dry root plant, haven't found much other info.

Thyme: Suitable for similar conditions as rosemary, but potentially better suited to self watering pots.

What methods would you suggest for each of these plants? Is there one system that would suit them all, or am I likely going to need multiples? Thanks for any suggestions you might have, and if any of my above conclusions is wrong, please correct me!
 
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The smaller the container the more often you have to water. Use large containers, the largest you can physically handle. When one waters he should water from the bottom up until water stands on the surface. Normally one would water every 5-7 days in an 8 inch pot. Move to a 12-14 inch pot.
Another thing you could do is add a water retention product such as Hydretain granular. My wife has used it in her hanging baskets here in South Texas where it is super dry and hot. She would water these outside container plants every 10-14 days. There are many such products online. This is the one she used. She bought it on Amazon I think for about $20 for 3 or 4 lb bag. Worked really good as she didn't complain.
 

MaryMary

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Welcome to the forum!! (To my knowledge, you are our first member from Alaska! (y))



This is the one she used. She bought it on Amazon I think for about $20 for 3 or 4 lb bag.

Chuck, you forgot to add the link!!


Worked really good as she didn't complain.

And this is hilarious!! :ROFLMAO:(y) :joyful:
 
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Thanks for the welcome and the advice! A quick search found this...is this what she used?


Sounds like a few 12" containers might be a good option, water them well before I take off, and hopefully they last until I return. I imagine that this will work better for the more drought tolerant rosemary, sage, or thyme, but will it be enough for basil, chives, and mint?
 
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My previous reply seems to be on hold pending moderator approval, I'm guessing because I had a link to Amazon where I found the Hydretain.

Thanks for the advice and welcome! It sounds like a 12-14" pot would be a good bet, especially for the drought tolerant rosemary, thyme, and sage. Will basil, chives, or mint fare as well with 2 weeks between waterings?
 
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My previous reply seems to be on hold pending moderator approval, I'm guessing because I had a link to Amazon where I found the Hydretain.

Thanks for the advice and welcome! It sounds like a 12-14" pot would be a good bet, especially for the drought tolerant rosemary, thyme, and sage. Will basil, chives, or mint fare as well with 2 weeks between waterings?
It depends on the temperature inside your home. If it stays around 70F they all should be OK with large pots if you water them from the bottom up especially with a product like Hydrevain. What is your growing medium? Garden soil, compost, a mixture of the two?
 
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Haven't decided on the growing medium yet, but I'm open to suggestions. Temperatures in summer months tend to hover around the high 60s, though usually a little warmer around that window. Highest I would expect even on the warmest days would be about 75.
 
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Haven't decided on the growing medium yet, but I'm open to suggestions. Temperatures in summer months tend to hover around the high 60s, though usually a little warmer around that window. Highest I would expect even on the warmest days would be about 75.
I would mix garden soil with a GOOD compost 50/50. Please don't use any Scotts or MiracleGro products. Do as I said above and 2 weeks won't be a problem. Most plants do better when water stressed.
 
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Sounds pretty straightforward... I think I'll start with a planter each of rosemary, thyme, and sage with this method. Basil and mint will be going into a simple hydroponic setup, based on what I've been getting from the hydro forums.
 
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Hello.

I’m not sure about the plants themselves but in terms of self watering there is this organic system called ollas. It’s basically clay pots you put in the ground and fill with water. Since the clay is porous it’ll let the water go in the ground to water the plants. The plants will naturally wrap around the clay pots and absorb the water . When there’s no more water the pores of the pot will let out the water constantly watering the plants

Here is a video on a diy cheap option


Hope that helps on the natural watering options

Otherwise there’s a system called clayola which is made in Egypt (where I live) and they found a way to make it into an irrigation system. I’m sure you can figure out how to make your own .

Good luck and keep us updated !!
 
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