Hang a basket brimming with leafy herbs and succulent tomatoes close to your kitchen door for easy access to fresh ingredients. With a sprinkling of annual flowers, this pretty mix is a match for any bedding design, and the herbs emit a wonderful scent at just the right height for you to enjoy.
When to start: Mid- to late spring.
At their best: Summer.
Time to complete: 2 hours.
You will need: Large hanging basket with liner, soil-based potting mix combined 50:50 with multi-purpose potting mix, slow-release granular fertilizer, plastic bags, gravel mulch, liquid tomato fertilizer, tomato plants, violas and nasturtiums. Herbs that you could use here are: Basil ‘Magic Mountain’, chives, flat-leaved parsley, thyme.
Prepare the basket
Buy the largest basket you can find, ideally with an integrated liner—because tomatoes are greedy feeders and need lots of water, they may not be as successful in a small basket that holds a limited amount of soil, water, and food. Line the base of the basket with a sheet of plastic to create a reservoir at the bottom. Stand the plants in a tray of water for 30 minutes until the top of the soil is moist. Remove, and leave them to drain.
Plant the sides
Half-fill the basket with potting mix. Cut two or three crosses in the liner above the soil. Tip a thyme plant from its pot and wrap the leaves in a plastic bag. Carefully push the bag from the inside out through a slit, so the root ball is resting on the soil. Repeat with the other thymes.
Mix in fertilizer
Fill in around the thyme root balls with soil mixed with slow-release fertilizer. Top up the basket with more soil to 4 in (10 cm) from the rim.
Add the plants
Set out your plants in their pots to check that they fit. Then plant them up at the same level they were at in their pots, with the tomato plants at the edge and the basil in the middle of the basket.
Add a gravel mulch. Hang the basket on a strong bracket in a sunny spot. Water daily and feed every week with a tomato fertilizer. Harvest leaves from the herbs as you need them, and pick the tomatoes when they are ripe.