As we mentioned in our big post about all of our yard progress last weekend, we added a container herb garden to the front yard. We had originally been thinking about building a planter box, but then Dain had the idea to bury a collection of pots instead. So we went to the Home Depot with that idea and with a simple wooden planter box as our backup plan if we couldn’t find any affordable pots. But we happened to hit the mother lode thanks to our thrifty thinking. And with our bargain pots, a little bit of paint that we already owned, and some more farmers’ market finds, we ended up with a vibrant garden that brings some needed pop to our yard. Here’s a look at how we did it.
As you know if you frequent the garden section, pots can be really expensive, especially the more elaborate ones. So we kind of knew that the only option in our price range would be the basic orange clay pots. But we discovered that even those are pretty expensive. This Terra-Cotta Heavy Rimmed Pot is $54.98 for the 22 inch size, and the more basic version is $43.98 in the largest size that was available at our local Home Depot. We knew we weren’t going to spend $100 on two pots so we had kind of moved back to the boxed planter idea. But then we circled back to the pots after looking in the wood section, and Dain found a hidden area off to the side that had some less than perfect pots. One had a hole in the bottom, and the other had a large chip out of the top rim. However, we knew we were going to be burying these partially so a hole in the bottom was not a deal breaker for us. We hatched a plan to see if we could get a discount on the damaged merchandise because it truly never hurts to ask. It wasn’t easy to find a manager on a busy Saturday morning in the garden center, but when he finally came over, he was extremely helpful. He told us that they usually just return the duds to the manufacturer for a credit, but that he thought he could bring the price down if we were really interested. So he went off to get a hand-held price scanner, and we discussed our bottom line. When he came back, he first said that he could give us 50% off, and we thanked him but nicely said that we were really thinking more like $5 or $6 dollars each. And he said sure, he could do that. We couldn’t believe it. What an amazing deal. We paid $12 for $98.93 worth of slightly damaged pots.
We also purchased four smaller pots (at $3.28 each for two of them and $3.98 each for the other two). And we walked out of there like we stole something (especially after using our $10 off coupon too). Because it felt like we had. Total steal. And it enabled us to put our plan in motion.
When we got home, I set out to paint them using paint we already own while Dain was busy getting dirty in the dirt and mulch project. I cleaned the pots a little bit with damp paper towels to get off any dirt, and then I used small brushes to paint them. They were very easy to paint, and the only annoying part was washing the brushes in between colors. We ended up painting the largest one the same Wild Mulberry that we painted our concrete pavers. The next biggest one was adorned with a blue color from our laundry room, and then I did one set of the small and medium pots in the orange from our study (seriously, we have that on walls) and the other set in a dark blue that we used for signs for our wedding last year. And it made for a colorful assortment. That is for sure. No one could ever accuse of us of having a safe color palette or of living in a world of beige.
After they had time to dry, we laid them out on top of the dirt to see how we should arrange them. And then we began digging. Dain decided to bury the big ones fairly deep so he set out with his trusty shovel that he rocked all weekend with all of our dirt projects. It took a few tries to get the hole right and to make it all level because Dain is a perfectionist like that. He asked me if I could get a level for him. I think he was kind of joking but kind of not.
The two big pots went in first and as expected, we couldn’t even tell that they were damaged goods. The paint made the chip on the pink pot a lot less noticeable. Not that we really care though because nothing is ever perfect.
After the big ones were in, Dain added the smaller pots at an angle. Then we decided that the containers would only have annuals while we would add perennials around the pots in hopes that they will return. Surrounding the pots, we planted our orange mint from a farmers’ market trip a few weeks back and some onion chives that we picked up at a sale at the Bachman’s tent at our local Byerly’s. Dain also added 3 sedum varieties around the pots, in hopes that it will provide a little bit of ground cover. Then we added soil to each pot, using about half of our dirt from our pile and half from bagged potting soil.
And then in the pots, we have an array of edibles including rosemary, purple basil, parsley, cilantro, arugula, onions, hot peppers, jalapeno peppers, golden sage, oregano, a curry plant and another catnip plant. We discovered the curry plant at Bachman’s, and I don’t think we will actually try to eat it after researching it online a little bit. The consensus is that you can eat it, but there’s no point since it is just a bitter leaf and does not actually taste like curry. And I also learned at the farmers’ market that catnip is a perennial in our zone so I may be taking that out of the pot later in the summer to see if it will survive the winter in the ground.
What are we going to do with all of the other herbs and veggies you might ask? Well, we’re not entirely sure on some of them. We have yet to become gourmet chefs so we don’t really have anything in mind, but we’re making it our goal to use everything over the course of the summer. So far we have only used our original basil, but it was excellent in a summer pasta dish I tried out a few weeks ago. The orange mint will probably go towards orange mojitos or maybe a salad dressing. Cilantro will go into salsas and a bean dip recipe we love. And we’ll have to get back to you on the rest.
We also added lemon balm plants in our front garden against the house, which are advertised as being hardy to our zone (4) so hopefully those will come back next year and repel mosquitoes for us. And our final farmers’ market addition was a lemon grass plant, which is an annual in our zone but is also supposed to repel mosquitoes. So hopefully my catnip, lemon balm and lemon grass plants will vanquish the mosquitoes from our yard….wishful thinking, I know. We also put our herb-filled pot we made awhile back on the patio next to the buried containers with our other edibles. And those herbs and veggies are loving life. The dill is out of control, and the garlic chives, basil and red pepper plant are also thriving.
I also finished off a few more containers for our back deck. And with that, all of the pots we own are filled (except for a large red one that has been sitting upside down in our backyard for months that Dain says is an indoor pot and to which I say, then why is it still outside?)
And now we are just waiting for some of our herbs and veggies to flourish. I think it’ll take awhile for any of the peppers to grow, but it will be fun to watch their progress every time we come and go.
This project was really easy, and you could do it in any color that speaks to you. I was also thinking shades of gray would give it a much more sophisticated look, but we committed to the bright side since our season to enjoy our garden is so short. We are not sure how these pots will survive the winter, but we’ll learn that when we get there. And this entire project ran us around $45 thanks to the $1 herb plants we found on Sunday at the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market on Lyndale and the deal that we scored on the pots.