This spring I created a small herb garden in a quiet, sunny, protected corner next to my barn using vintage wine barrels. I borrowed this concept, modifying it slightly, from Rosalind Creasy's, Edible Landscaping book. This is a terrific book for incorporating more edibles in your landscaping. Rosalind has a whole chapter on "Designing With Herbs."
An "herb garden a la wine barrels," was multi-dimensional for me. My husband, John, and I make wine, and have access to used wine barrels. We have a functional barn, with a trio of wine barrels already planted with blueberry bushes and strawberries on the right side, why not do something on the left with wine barrels, such as herbs. This particular spot is also close to my kitchen, a must for any herb garden.
I used a trio of half barrels from standard wine barrels, cut in half. You can find these types of barrels for sale at home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Dixieline, nurseries, and garden centers. For my second top row, I used a smaller 15 gallon wine barrel, cut in half and sanded along the edges. All wine barrels need to have spaced holes drilled for adequate drainage. I also placed my bottom wine barrels on top of carefully placed river rocks to save the barrels from rotting in the soil, and allowing further drainage.
Since the barrels are big, it is best to use a sterile filler or upside down one gallon size plastic plant containers. It will save you on filling the entire barrel with soil, mulch, etc. I simply placed my second row, and smaller wine barrels securely on the sides of the base half-barrels, using their weight to stabilize them.
Fill your barrels with clean potting soil, almost to the rim of each barrel. You can add an irrigation system if you like. I chose not to. Select your favorite herbs, and plant. I planted chives, winter savory, curly parsley, Italian parsley, tarragon, sorrel, Italian oregano, sage, cinnamon basil, and Italian basil. Choose herbs that you use frequently in your cooking, and a mixture of annual and perennial herbs. Choose some herbs that have a trailing habit, so as they grow and establish themselves, they will spill over the barrels. As time goes on, you can always switch out herbs for new ones when needed.
Add a layer of mulch on top of your soil, and around your herbs. Newly planted herbs like to be kept moist initially, and water moderately once established.
Please share if you grow herbs to cook with. Please share how your herb garden is set up and designed.