Fresh herbs can turn the simplest recipe into something extraordinary. Whether you sprinkle thyme over grilled fish or chicken, add oregano to summer salads or use basil to enliven pasta, fresh herbs add bright flavors that can only come directly from your garden. And it doesn’t have to be a big garden. Many herbs are perfect for growing in pots. Here’s a recipe for creating a beautiful and bountiful herb garden in a wine or whiskey half-barrel right in your backyard.
First, make sure the barrel has drainage holes. If not, drill 10 to 15 1/2-inch holes in the bottom. Next, fill the barrel with good potting soil.
Wet the soil and begin planting. Around the outside of the barrel, plant sprawling herbs such as lemon or silver thyme, variegated sage, or compact oregano. As the plants grow, they’ll cascade over the edge of the barrel. Just inside the perimeter of the spreading herbs, plant parsley or basil (for unique color, try purple basil). In the middle of the barrel, plant feathery dill or bronze fennel. For a little more color, add a few dwarf marigolds wherever there is space.
All these herbs grow best in full sun, and you’ll have to water the barrel regularly, especially during warm weather. Within a month, you’ll have a beautiful container – and wonderful fresh flavors at your fingertips.