Herbs are a great place to start when it comes to growing your own produce. They can be grown in pots or the ground, so no matter how much space you have a bounty of some sort is achievable. Nothing annoys me more than spending $5 on a bunch of herbs that go soggy and gross after couple of days and have to be tossed to the worms. When you’ve got home grown herbs at hand, they are always super fresh and you can take just the amount you need!
As a general rule, when planting in pots use a high quality organic potting mix and enrich your garden soil with compost or worm castings prior to planting, this means your soil will retain nutrients and moisture. Once your seedlings are established, mulch your herbs with sugar cane or pea straw.
Below you’ll find profiles on some of my favourites.
Basil likes the warmer weather, so plant seeds or seedlings from September to February in a spot that gets full sun. Basil likes to be fed more than most other herbs, so although it’s an easy herb to grow some extra effort when it comes to fertilising can really pay off. Liquid feed with seaweed emulsion or worm wee every two weeks during the summer growing months. The more you harvest, the bushier your plant will get, but be sure to leave enough of the plant so it can continue to photosynthesise. When harvesting, cut just above the point where a set of leaves joins the stem. Pick off flowers when they appear to increase the lifespan of your plant. Plant it next to your tomato plants and it will act as a natural deterrent for pests.
Plant Coriander seeds from September to April in a brightly lit but shaded/cool spot or during Autumn to early Winter in a nice sunny spot. The reason for this being, Coriander will bolt to seed in the searing heat and then the show will be over before it even started! Water Coriander twice weekly (daily during the hot months) and feed once a month with seaweed emulsion or worm wee. When harvesting, cut mature stems from the outer edge of the plant. You can also harvest the entire plant and use the roots, stems and leaves in cooking. Sow seeds every few weeks so you will have a continual supply.
Mint loves soil with constant moisture, not soggy, just damp. Plant Mint seedlings anytime but be sure to plant in a large pot as Mint will roam if planted in a garden bed. Mint likes sunshine, but not afternoon heat where it will lose its lushness, you will also find it starts to get leggy if it’s not getting enough sun. The benefit of growing it in pot is you can move it depending on the season/sun to find the perfect spot. Feed once a month with seaweed emulsion or worm wee. Harvest by cutting the stem just above the point where a set of leaves joins the stem.
Plant Rosemary seeds or seedlings (or cuttings of your own if you’re feeling adventurous) anytime of the year in full sun. Rosemary thrives in warm, dry conditions so make sure your soil is free draining. It’s a great one for beginners, as it will survive long periods without watering and you really only need to prune it once a year in early Spring to encourage a new flush of growth. During the rest of the year, general picking to add to meals will keep it in shape. Feed with an organic slow release fertiliser twice a year. Harvest sprigs by cutting the stem just above the point where a set of leaves joins the stem.
Plant Thyme seedlings anytime of year in a sunny position. Thyme also likes free draining soil and can suffer from root rot if it remains wet for too long. Test moisture in the soil before watering by sticking your pointer finger into the soil up to the second knuckle. If it’s still damp, leave watering till another day. Feed with an organic slow release fertiliser twice a year. Harvest by trimming with scissors, much like a hairdresser would, but be sure to leave enough foliage for the plant to continue to photosynthesise.
Find a sunny well drained position for Oregano seedlings and plant from April to September. Oregano is another one that doesn’t like soggy soil and generally does better with some tough love in the watering department. Feed once a month with seaweed emulsion or worm wee during the Spring/Summer growing season. Harvest in the same way as you would Thyme.
Probably the most frequently used herb in my garden, as one family member has a penchant for Tabouli. Plant your Parsley seedlings any time of the year in full sun or semi-shade. Parsley is another one that benefits from some extra feeding, so be generous with the seaweed emulsion or worm wee applying it fortnightly during the growing months, this will ensure you have plenty of lush foliage. Harvest by cutting mature stems from the outer edge of the plant.
Worm wee is the liquid produced from a worm farm. Worm farms are fantastic in a small space as there are many very compact varieties available, you can even make your own. The worms will gobble up a huge portion of your kitchen scraps which reduces the amount you put in your red bin every week and they produce fabulously nutrient dense worm wee for you to give back to your plants. Win, win! More to come on worm farms in the future.
* Planting times are based on a warm temperate climate such as Sydney, Australia.
Image via homelife.com.au
Hedges are a very handy landscape element that can really enhance your garden space by providing you with a green boundary. They can be used to screen neighbours, as windbreaks, they can divide your garden into different rooms as well as providing a backdrop for feature plants or sculpture.
We generally think of hedges as something around fence height but, depending on your plant choice they can be just as striking at waist or even knee height. There are loads of options when it comes to hedging plants, what you need to consider is the shape and level of formality you are after.
If you want a hedge that requires minimal pruning, there are some plants with a natural form that is well suited to informal hedging, meaning you won’t need to be out there pruning monthly during the growing season.
LARGER HEDGING PLANTS
Murraya paniculata (which often blooms time and time again after rain), Photinia, Raphiolepis indica, Buxus japonica (traditional look but slow growing),Viburnum odoratissimum or the very delicate Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen'.
Some Australian native options are Acmena smithii or Syzigium australe (both are types of Lilly Pilly), Backhousia citriodora (Lemon Myrtle), Elaeocarpus eumundii, Callistemon ‘Great Balls of Fire’.
In narrow spaces Bamboo can be a great option, for example Bambusa textilis Gracilis ‘Slender Weavers’.
SMALLER HEDGING PLANTS
Teucrium fruticans, Gardenia augusta, Lavender, Raphiolepis indica ‘Oriental Pearl’ (last months Plant profile), Pittosporum tobira 'Miss Muffet', Alternathera dentata (for some Burgundy colour), Trachelospermum asiaticum.
Australian natives Acmena smithii ‘Allyn Magic’, Westringia fruticosa (loads of different sizes and colours available), Baeckea virgata ‘Compacta’, Callistemon 'Little John'.
For something a little different you could use the succulent like Crassula or a textural plant like Philodendron ‘Xanadu’.
HOW MANY PLANTS DO I NEED?
To calculate your spacing and quantities, use the mature width of your chosen plant as your guide to spacing between the rootballs when planting. If you are after a dense hedge that establishes quickly and you have the space, consider planting two parallel rows with the plants staggered.
HOW DO I GET AN INSTANT HEDGE?
Apart from buying mature plants that will fill your space instantly, which often the budget won’t allow, unfortunately there is no magic way to get an instant hedge. The best thing you can do is provide regular water and a good covering of mulch. After planting, water weekly with seaweed solution and then a month or so after that continue with the seaweed solution once a month and fertilise at the start of each season (except Winter) with slow release fertiliser.
It was a walk down the street this morning and whiff of something a bit farmyard that inspired this post. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s copped a noseful of fertiliser lately. When the warmer spring weather hits, plants start growing once again and to help them with this, a good dose of fertiliser is just what they need.
In the plant food aisle, one can be spoilt for choice or just plain confused. The information below, should help you narrow down the options.
I’ll try not to get too nerdy scientist on you, but this will help you decipher the numbers on the back of the pack. Fertilisers have a breakdown of the top 3 nutrients required by plants, Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). As a rule of thumb Nitrogen assists with leaf growth, Phosphorus is overall plant growth and Potassium helps with flowering. So for example a plant food for Citrus would have higher amounts of Phosphorus and Potassium and small amounts of Nitrogen so the plants energy is not put into the leaf growth but instead focuses on juicy fruit.
A BIT OF EXTRA LOVE AND ATTENTION