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Just moved into a new apartment with private access to a sweet 3rd story porch. While it's not the envy of Thomas Keller I really want to put it to use growing herbs or whatever else would be acceptable. I know its the thick of the summer but what can I put here? What would be perennial? Whats a good starting point? It's got Southern exposure and its in the Boston area climate-wise.

porch 1.jpg

porch 2.jpg

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I started my herbs as tiny potted seedlings around Easter, but I'm a lot further south. I recently did a pot of basil for a friend's birthday gift, and bought two sizeable plants in a 6-inch pot and repotted them together in a 15-inch pot (like me, he really LIKES basil, and makes a lot of pesto). I have most of my herbs in 15-inch pots; some I don't use as much of may share a pot, two varieties per pot (i.e., my oregano and thyme are together, ditto my sage and parsley). I use a lot of basil and mint. Rosemary is a perennial, so it gets a big pot to itself. Mint dies down in the winter, but comes back in the spring for me; ditto chives and thyme and oregano and parsley.I'd think with a good southern exposure, you should be able to grow any and all of those. Be sure and pinch off the flowers at the top of your basil stalks when they appear, so your plant won't bolt.

Don't ask. Eat it.


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Most herbs want good drainage so if you hang them you will have drips on the deck as the water runs through. I would suggest hitting the local garden center and buying a selection, some potting soil, and some inexpensive plastic pots and saucers to set under them (terra cotta dries out way too fast). That way you can try out different locations on the deck - moving them if it appears they are getting too much or too little sun (they will let you know by looking unhappy). The soft herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro are annuals so they will do through their life cycle and be done in a few months. Rosemary and thyme will hang around if you protect them in the cold months. I find it key to use them when they are young and tender - they will put out more foliage. Also pinch off the flowers as soon as buds appear or else they will finish their life cycle much too quickly.

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With that type of deck rail you can use the "saddle" type planters and some have their own drip trays or are self-waatering.

Some are deep enough to grow the small(short) varieties of carrots, radishes and onions and are great for Shallots that are actually grown mostly on top of the soil.

See them here.

and some different types here.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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Yes, get them in nursery pots.

I grow herbs on my 11th-floor NYC terrace. It's startling what a transformation fresh-picked herbs make in salads, and they blow away supermarket herbs - even greenmarket herbs - in any application.

We have successfully raised:

mint (two or three varieties)





summer savory



The mint, sage, savory and hyssop returns for us - not sure if it will for you in Zone 5/6.

Do not expect the rosemary to overwinter!

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Jonathan, welcome to eGullet! I can only add a couple of new suggestions:

arugula grows quickly from seed and does well in pots and windowboxes. Snip when young for your salads or pasta.

nasturtiums are lovely edible flowering plants that also look beautiful on your deck. the peppery flowers are great additions to salads. Local farmers markets are still selling starter plants.

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