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KITCHEN GARDEN

Herbs in Space

July 06, 1986|DAWN NAVARRO | Dawn Navarro, a free-lance journalist, is author of The Los Angeles Times Book of Christmas Entertaining

Hanging baskets are a nice way to bring fresh herbs up to eye level, where their lively fragrances and ornamental colors can be better appreciated. Decorative as well as space-saving, hanging baskets make for easy-to-grow gardens, and snails and other pests are not much of a problem because the herbs are far out of reach.

Compatible plantings assure longer-lasting gardens. For example, perennials such as spearmint, lemon balm and peppermint blend well with sage. Thyme and oregano make a good grouping for another basket. Frequently used herbs should have their own separate baskets: Three basil plants in one basket can last all summer.

The baskets pictured here were planted by Ashton Hartley, 13, whose family owns the Hartley Wholesale Nurseries in Malibu and Moorpark. Start with thick sphagnum planting moss (called "green moss") and 20-inch wire baskets. After thoroughly soaking the moss, squeeze out the water. Line each basket with moss about two or three inches thick. Fill the baskets with a potting soil that is light and sandy, the better to more easily lift the planted baskets and to provide good drainage.

Plant the herbs firmly but gently, and water lightly (it is best to water hanging baskets sparingly but more often). Hang them in a location that is sunny or at least bright.

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