Hello fellow green-thumbers! We’re in the midst of spring, and you should be cleaning out those winter pots, and redesigning your new spring container garden. If you haven’t started yet, don’t panic, you’ve got time! If you live in a cooler climate like me (I live on the Canadian west coast), mother nature is on your side. The unseasonably warm weather hasn’t arrived yet, so I have at least another month to get my seedlings in the soil.

Last week I made a trip to my local nursery to pick out a couple of pots to replant two very overgrown houseplants, and the moment I stepped inside, I was accosted by the unmistakable aroma of rosemary, thyme, mint and a myriad of other delicious herbs. As I meandered through the nursery, I started making mental lists of all the wonderful summer dishes I could serve guests inspired by herb garden. While this wasn’t going to be the summer I learned how to become a chef, I was certainly going to throw some stellar dinner parties.

I usually plant my herbs near the end of planting because they grow so quickly, and I used them to decorate pots, but I decided I was going to get a heads start this year, so here’s a couple of the herbs you’ll find in my herb garden:

Rosemary 

Not only is rosemary a wonderfully ornamental herb, there are literally thousands of recipes you can use it in. I use it in a lot of my Moroccan and Mediterranean cooking. It’s an incredibly hardy plant, and perfect for me because I don’t get as much sunshine as other parts of the country.

Thyme

This plant is slightly more delicate than rosemary. It takes only takes a week to germinate and you need but a thin layer of compost on top. It will survive through the winter, and can last up to 4 years! At $2.99 for a few stems in the supermarket, the plant will pay for itself in one use.

Basil

If you love to cook Italian, you would be remiss not to include this in your herb garden. Basil is a very fussy plant, and must be planted after the frost, so I will most likely be planting it near the end when the weather finally warms up. When you do plant it, make sure it gets as much sun as possible, and that the soil is rich.

Anyone can go to a local nursery and pick up a bag of soil for their burgeoning garden, but composting is another matter. If you’ve been following this blog at all, you know that this is the year that I’ve decided to start my first container garden. Because I only decided a month ago to start up my garden, I didn’t have compost for the first Spring plant, however, that hasn’t stopped me from starting one for the winter months!

Indoor composting is a heck of a lot easier than you might think. Compost piles get such a bad wrap because of their potential to smell like something died! And it’s true. When I used to live in the Burbs, if you walked within a few steps of my compost pile, your hair would curl. But wow, did it produce some amazing fruits and veggies! The decomposition of organic matter is not going to smell like a rose garden, we’re talking dead things here. It of course all depends on what you throwing into the mix. If you’re tossing out bones and bits of meat, not only is your pile going to smell, but you’re going to end up with the entire cast of the Jungle Book (minus a half clothed orphan) in your back yard.

There are several indoor composting methods, but my absolute favourite, and the one that creates the best soil for me is by way of Vermicomposting, using worms. Oh, don’t squirm, worms are cool! If you’ve ever gone digging around in your back yard and come across red worms, you were probably working with some incredibly fertile soil and just didn’t know it! So, now we know that we need red worms for a compost success story, what’s next?

First, you’ll want to work out how many people you’re providing for (don’t worry, this post will not require you to eat the worms, that’s next week!). There’s a loose formula that I’ve always sort of followed. Again, stop panicking, there’s no math involved, and figuring out how much compost you’ll need is not nearly as complicated as learning how to become a Federal air marshall. If you’re composting for 1-3 people, a lb of red worms is sufficient. If you’ve got a family of 4-6, than you’ll want 2-3lbs of red worms. As far as container size goes, you’re looking at something that’s got dimensions in or around about 15″x2″x3.5″, conveniently, small enough to fit under your kitchen sink if you so wished.

Okay. Container? Check. Now, it’s time to find some bedding for your worms. You can’t just toss them into a bucket and expect miracles to happen, so head outside and find some organic material like leaves, or even bits of recyclable paper for the worms to feed on. It’s their waste that creates the fertile soil that you will use later to plant your garden! There’s a little more to the process, but that should be enough to get you started. Check back next week, and we’ll go into a little bit more detail about why vermicomposting is the best method, and how it works!