Projects to get you motivated and inspired for a weekend of gardening.
One of the best ways to start growing your own food is by planting some herbs. Then, once you’ve discovered the joys of picking your own fresh produce from the garden, you’ll be keen to grow more and, thus, move on to vegies. Here are some easy herbs for beginners.
Herbs that like tough going
Herbs from the Mediterranean such as thyme, sage, oregano and marjoram, develop the strongest flavour if they’re grown hard. This means well-drained soil (perhaps a raised bed or a pot), lots of air movement around the plants and, of course, loads of sun. Don’t give them too much water or nitrogen-rich fertiliser – an occasional splash with Thrive Flower & Fruit should be enough. In areas with acid soil (where azaleas and camellias flourish) sprinkle some lime or dolomite around the plants every year or so. Tough growing conditions encourage these herbs to concentrate the flavour and aroma in their leaves. It helps too, of course, if you garden in a Mediterranean-type climate with wet winters and hot, dry summers.
Herbs that enjoy the soft life
Other leafy herbs, such as parsley and basil, appreciate more water and fertiliser. If they’re treated too harshly, they feel threatened, start to flower and eventually go to seed. Fertilise this group regularly with Yates Nitrosol or Thrive Soluble, water well and mulch around the plants to retain moisture in the soil.
Basil’s a summer favorite that grows easily from seed, and Yates seed range includes three different basil varieties. Sweet Basil is the traditional culinary choice. Gourmet Mix has a selection of varieties (lemon, cinnamon, Thai, bush) that offers a choice of flavours. New to the range this spring is Purple Basil (pictured), with sweetly pungent leaves that are a rich, dark colour.
The softest herb of all is mint which likes plenty of water and enjoys some shade. In these conditions, it’s best grown in a pot that will restrict its spread otherwise it can take over the whole garden!
Herbs that need space
Rosemary and bay are two, easy-to-grow shrubs that can be given permanent spots in the garden. Bay will eventually grow into a mid-sized tree but can be regularly trimmed to restrict its size (strew the leaves from these prunings around the house as a natural pest deterrent). Rosemary usually forms an upright shrub but can also be found in low-growing forms that act as ground covers.
Group potted herbs together as close to the kitchen as possible. Yates Tuscan Edge trough is an ideal size for growing a range of herbs and, with its self-watering feature, herb care will be easier than ever.