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A few years ago, I had a very large garden.
We had just moved into our house and Mama had delusions of grandeur. For a few years, her garden of good intentions and poor execution was one of her proudest accomplishments. Then one year, under the gardeners cloth, in the dead of winter, the Earth took back the land. Mama uncovered it in the Spring to find the whole garden overgrown with dense strong weeds that were next to impossible to uproot. She abandoned the garden until such a time that the Daddy could rent some sort of robot-tiller (like the one they used in the Jetson’s movie when they tried to mill the Grungee’s home planet? You know the one.) It’s a good thing Mama isn’t holding her breath because she’d be dead by now if she was.
A small container garden was her only chance to grow something.
Mama knew she wanted something edible, after all, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen together. She toyed with the idea of growing tomatoes, pole beans or peas, all of which do great in containers, but the Felix and I L.O.V.E. beans and would probably pick and eat them all ourselves. The Daddy loves peas, so she probably wouldn’t get a bite of those. She wanted something she might get a chance to enjoy too.
Mama decided to make a Dog Friendly Herb Garden.
If you’ve been hanging around Kol’s Notes for a while, you’ll know that we use a ton of herbs in our recipes. I don’t know about your house, but here, fresh herbs are worth their weight in gold! A small bunch can cost as much as $2.50. Luckily, it’s really easy to grow your own dog friendly herb garden, no green thumb required. (Seriously, even Grandma can grow herbs. Don’t give her a houseplant though. RIP Fig Tree.)
Here’s what you need:
- A medium size sturdy pot ($3 at the discount store.)
- Potting Mix ($5)
- Herbs Seed Packets ($7 – $10) or Seedlings ($15-$20)
Total Cost for Mama, who has known she wanted do this project since Christmas, but somehow managed to not get her act together in time to plant seeds? $25.00
Tip #1: We paid a little bit extra for the pot Mama chose to get one with a water drip tray at the bottom. This prevents Mama from over watering the plants. She could have picked up a cheaper one and filled the bottom third with rocks for drainage. To each their own. Get the largest planter you can afford/your yard/deck will allow. The more potting mix you have in there, the longer it takes to dry out. One big container is better than two small ones.
Tip #2: Choose a quality potting mix, not a soil. The crap they put in those soil bags can be pretty low quality, it’s sticky and has poor drainage. You’ll do better with a potting mix which is some soil, with a lot of peat and composted material. It’s like cashmere for your plants. We paid a little extra to get one with a slow release natural, organic fertilizer in it, since frequent watering tends to wash the nutrients from the soil.
Choosing the herbs
If your garden center is anything like mine, you probably have an overwhelming number of choices when it comes to deciding what herbs to plant. Since we wanted to plant an edible herb garden, we focused on the fragrant herbs we love to cook with. Our neighbour has a medicinal herb garden and one of Mama’s friend’s has an herb garden sacred to the herbs humans mottle in their grown up drinks. There is a ton of information out there as to what plants are toxic to pets, no matter what kind of herb garden you decide to plant, make sure it’s pet friendly. ASPCA has a pretty comprehensive list of toxic/non-toxic plants, thought I hate hate hate! their new page system. Anyone else miss the bulky old list??)
In our dog friendly herb garden, we decided to plant:
- Parsley and more parsley – This one is a Casa de Kolchak favourite and we use it a lot, so it only made sense to plant an abundance of it. It’s great for helping to freshen doggy breath and it can help improve digestion.
- Greek Oregano – A little milder than it’s Italian cousin and a flavour both Kol and Fe enjoy. Oregano is know for it’s anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties. We mottle a leaf or two into their water bowl with some homemade, onion free chicken broth and they love it.
- Basil – Basil is an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant, known for being rich in rich in essential vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients, electrolytes and oils. Kol likes it in a cheesey dog treat.
- Rosemary – Caution! Rosemary is not good for all dogs and we use it sparingly. It has been rumoured to trigger seizures in pre-disposed dogs. That being said, it isn’t considered toxic and there are some benefits to it, Felix’s favourite being that it adds a tasty zing to homemade chicken chewies.
- Lemonbalm – Lemonbalm is known for it’s calming properties, can neutralize gas in the stomach and has deodorizing properties. It’s also great on poultry.
- Sage – Known for it’s skill as a tummy tamer, sage tea can help ease digestive upset. It’s also great with apple or lamb.
- Thyme – Thyme is an antioxidant and its primary ingredient, thymol, helps inhibit fungal and bacterial growth. We like ours served with whitefish.
Kol and Fe love dill, but it’s too tall to be well suited to a container garden, so we skipped it. Maybe next year!
Planting your dog friendly herb garden is really easy.
If you’re using seeds, that will be the most difficult part. This tutorial has amazing step by step instructions that I could never convey better. Just check them out (Tip #3: I use egg cartons instead of expensive seed trays.)
Once your plants have grown into seedlings (or if you’re forgetful like Mama and you bought seedlings in the first place), arrange them in your pot, try to keep lower growing herbs like sage or basil to the otter edges and taller or bushy herbs, like rosemary or parsley to the center.
Don’t be alarmed if your planter looks a little sparse.
Seedlings are notoriously tiny, but they grow so quickly once they get into their spacious pot and get some good, hot sun on them. It will be bushy and beautiful in just a week or two. Pinky swear. Place your container is a spot that gets good sun for most of the day (unless you live in a place that is hot like the face of the sun, then put it in a spot that gets good sun some of the day. Keep it well moistened, but take care not to drown it. (I love those watering bulbs for this. I’ll slap a few in there and forget about it for a few days. Easy peasey!)