Back Porch Garden

In the last five years, I have gained a passion for cooking. (Basically since I graduated college and could afford to buy more than Ramen.) However, I still hold on to my loathing for grocery shopping. I really do hate it. Since having a kid, that dislike has escalated. Stores like Costco and Winco have helped me so much in this department because I now can buy in bulk and eliminate a lot of extra grocery trips by having my essentials stocked up. All the same, this doesn’t account for the fresh ingredients I have to buy at least weekly. Eventually, when we have a home with a yard, I am going to have a whole garden full of fresh produce that I don’t have to get off my butt to the store to buy. In the meantime, living in a townhome, I have to settle for the 7’ X 8’ patio outside our dining area.

I love the taste of fresh herbs. Yes, I have a stock of dried herbs for those moments when I am reluctant to get to the store. Yet, there is something about having every part of your food fresh! I decided to create a back porch garden so I could have wonderfully fresh picked herbs every time I needed those ingredients. I got the idea of a garden shelf from a friend. I saw that she had done this cute herb shelf on her back porch and knew I had to have one, so I set to work.

Items needed:

  • 4 cinder blocks (I got them for 50 cents each at Home Depot)

  • 2 boards (I used the leftover boards from our master closet remodel. I may get pretty wood boards in the future and stain them. But in the meantime, this works just fine.)

  • Paint (I had white paint left over from another project. I thought the coral paint was super cute, so I went to Home Depot and had their paint desk mix me a sample cup. It cost me about $2.50 and was the perfect amount for this size of a project. Doing it this way means the sky’s the limit with which colors you would like to use.)
  • Medium planter pots (They were about $2 each at Home Depot.)
  • Clear pot trays (You don’t need these, but I didn’t want water running out of the pots and all over my newly painted boards. I got them for 50 cents each at Home Depot.)
  • Herbs (There are a lot of ways to go about this. If you are planning on growing your own, you will need soil (for pots, not garden soil), plant food (fertilizer), and seeds. I bought already established herbs since I got on the ball a bit late in the season. I was able to find fully mature herbs (except cilantro) at Home Depot for $4 each (This was in July.). Depending upon my level of patience, I may or may not go this route in the future. I did like, however, that my garden was ready to go once I finished my project.)

This is a nice addition to our backyard decor. I love that I have more green in my life (not that Oregon is running out of green). I enjoy having fresh ingredients on hand. I also like involving my daughter, Riley, in taking care of them. Overall, this little back porch garden is cute, functional, and it makes me happy!

Herbs I have: Sage, Sweet Basil, Cilantro, Rosemary, Oregano, Parsley


  • Check how much water they are getting. I live in Oregon which means that we get plenty of rain. However, it hasn’t rained a month. So I am having to make sure to be on top of watering them daily. When the rain kicks back up, I will have to make sure they are not drowning in water.
  • Pay attention to the nightly temperature and daily temperature. A lot of herbs can be affected by too hot or too cold of conditions.
  • Research when and how to trim your plants. For example, basil needs to be trimmed from the top instead of snipping leaves from the bottom or side of the main stock.You should also trim your basil before any flowers bloom. The flowers stunt the growth of your basil plant.
  • Research all you can about the particular herbs you plan on planting (how they should grow, when to harvest). Write down your findings (or type and print them) and have them on hand. We all have a lot on our mind without memorizing random gardening facts (although I’m sure it becomes second nature once you’ve done it long enough). Tape this paper to the back of a kitchen cupboard or somewhere you can reference it quickly. When/If there is a problem or question to do with one of your precious herbs, reference your findings.
  • Check the amount of sunlight needed for each plant. On the plants that needed 6+ hours of sunlight (sage, basil, cilantro, rosemary), I made sure that these plants were on the top shelf with the most sun exposure. For the plants that needed partial shade (oregano and parsley), I put them on the bottom shelf where the sun will only get to them for a fraction of the day.

Happy growing!

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