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Don’t always listen to the experts – even the so-called experts… Yes, there are many qualified and experienced people out there, but gardening can be as much about trial and error as anything else. Especially if you’re not that into it and just want something that will grow and survive and basically look nice – a plant, shrub or tree that makes your friends and family say: “Ooh, I like that!”
Unless you’re a true afficionado, horticulturist, pedant, obsessive or someone who wants to outdo their neighbour, then a simple, inexpensive garden will suffice. Even if it’s just pots on your balcony that brings a smile to your face, then go for it.
Having given that sage advice, where shall I start? Let me begin with a simple herb garden.
Firstly, plant herbs that you actually like to eat. (There’s no point, otherwise.)
Secondly, try and plant them near your kitchen – that way, you’ll actually utilise your garden. Buy decent-sized pots so your plant has room to move and grow. Again, most experts would probably recommend 200mL pots (that’s 20cm or 8 inches high), but I’d recommend 300mL pots (30cm or 12 inches high)… And it doesn’t matter whether they are ceramic or plastic, plants don’t discriminate! Just make sure they have holes in the bottom to allow the water to drain. Pots that come with bases are ideal, but please don’t fill up these bases – too much water is just as detrimental as too little.
Buy a good potting mix, as the cheap stuff is next to useless. Never use ordinary soil either – it’s way too heavy and doesn’t allow the plant to breathe. While you’re buying your potting mix, get a bag of blood and bone as well. Mix about one cup in with your potting mix. There are many fertilisers out there, but I’ve found that blood and bone seems to be the most effective for new plantings. Afterwards, fertilise once a fortnight with Seasol, which is excellent. A tip here: Not only can you put the Seasol directly into the pot, but spraying the foliage is actually a more effective way to use it.
Buying your herbs: This depends on your level of patience. You can go to Bunnings, Woolies, Coles or a nursery and buy packets of seeds and there’s nothing wrong with this. Yet if you can find time to scour the markets, you can buy semi-established herbs or stock tubes which will take less time to grow. They’re usually cheaper, depending on which markets you go to of course.
Water them every two to three days for about two weeks, then once or twice a week depending on the weather. Obviously if it’s very hot, give them a little water every day.