Herb planter boxes filled to overflowing with fresh garden herbs provide easy access to culinary herbs to enhance your cooking and create an attractive display of scented plants. These boxes range in size from tiny shoe box-size holding small shoots to large 1.2 metre (4 feet) boxes filled with a variety of herbs. Displayed on sunny windows in the home, these boxes provide quick access to your favourite herbs. On the deck or near the front door, they welcome guests with a bit of traditional charm.
Decide on the size of your herb planter. Generally, a small window box will hold several varieties of herbs and provide enough for casual cooking. Larger boxes filled with a wide variety of culinary or medicinal herbs create the illusion of a formal herb garden. These boxes can be used as a permanent container for perennial herbs that return year after year.
Check for existing wooden crates that can be adapted to a planter box. Browse car boot sales and markets for crates. You can usually buy these for a few pounds, saving you the work of building your own box from scratch.
Build a simple herb planter with 20 cm (8 inch) pine board or timber ends. Do not use pressure-treated timber for this project, as the chemicals in the treated wood will leak into the soil, damaging your plants.
Cut the timber to the dimensions of the desired box. A traditional rectangular box requires two sets of timber lengths of the same dimensions, but a square box with equal sides works well, too. Boxes used atop the ground do not require a bottom, as the soil can be added above existing soil. Boxes displayed on decks or porches require a bottom cut from 2 cm (3/4 inch) plywood.
Secure the sides of the box with screws or nails to form the base of the planter. When designing a box with a plywood bottom, secure the sides of the box to the plywood with screws or nails. Begin with one of the longer sides attaching to the plywood at intervals with screws or nails. Work your way around the box, attaching sides to the plywood and securing the ends with screws.
Fill the box with a mixture of topsoil and well-rooted manure and mix it thoroughly. Plant herbs in the box. Although you can start them from seed, many garden centres offer established plants ready to place in your herb planter.
Select herbs that appeal to you. Chives, thyme, oregano and mints will return each year and are versatile herbs that are both attractive and practical. Annuals like basil are a must, but require planting each year. Chamomile or purple coneflowers add a splash of colour to your grouping.