3 Rules of Gardening in Pots
We are excited this week to publish a guest blog from a Sydney gal – Rebecca! Living in a terrace house in inner Sydney, Rebecca has mastered the art of growing herbs in pots and has shared her wisdom with us…
Calling all Herbivores!
Have you ever wished that you could just throw some fresh chives or parsley into your salad to spruce it up, or envied the person who tells you that a recipe calls for “just a few sprigs of rosemary from the garden”, or even just thought how lovely it would be to have some fresh mint to garnish the iced-water when friends pop in unexpectedly? Well, you can have all this, and it’s easy (no, it really is), if you just follow the three rules of gardening in pots – soil, sustenance and sun!
80% of the effort of any gardening should go into the soil. Soil is your plant’s food of life – if you look after its soil, it will thrive. There are two basic points to remember:
- Make sure your pot is big enough: the depth and width of your pot should match the high and width of your plant once it is grown. Have a bit of a guess at what size you think your plant it will end up (just look at the picture on the label). If your pot is only big enough for the plant right now – it won’t grow. If you want to limit its size, you can do this by choosing a smaller pot.
- Use a dense rich, dense, nutrient rich soil: you can buy this at any gardening store or hardware that has gardening supplies. The darker the soil, the better the nutrients.
Whilst your lovely, rich soil provides much of the food your herbs need in the first few weeks of their life, these nutrients don’t last and must be replaced. If your plants were in the ground, this would happen naturally thanks to decomposition and our friendly, garden earthmovers, worms. As we don’t have these in our pots, we must provide them for our hungry herbs. There are two main ways of feeding herbs:
- The “natural way” is to use worm castings (or the colloquial worm “wee”): This is the bi-product of worm farming. Many eager gardeners set up their own worm farm or you can buy these freshly harvested at markets and garden centres – keep an eye out.
- For those of us a little less enthusiastic (or a little more time poor), you can buy fish emulsion in a bottle from any gardening store. Whilst this may smell a little fishy (literally!), it is magic for your herbs. You will see dramatic growth within in a week or two. Just add to your watering routine once a week (follow the quantities on the bottle) and your herbs will prosper!
This one may sound like a no-brainer but, if your anything like me, you want your herb garden to look fabulous and to fit in perfectly with the décor. Unfortunately, no matter how perfect the spot next to the window, or the sideboard in the kitchen, or the hooks on the balcony may look if they had some plants there, if it is not in the sun, your herbs won’t grow. Herbs love, and need, full sun. Give them that and the rest will take care of itself.
Finally a few small tips that will help you make a success of your foray into gardening:
- Start with seedlings (i.e. they already have a few leaves), starting from seeds is quite hard and requires a different approach
- Select herbs that are hardy and grow easily. I recommend starting mint, parsley, chives and rosemary. Many others are fairly easy but steer clear of coriander (flowers quickly and stops growing) and basil (attracts bugs) at first.
- Buy a bottle of pyrethrum spray. This is a low toxic bug spray that will protect your herbs from most pests – keep in mind that any pesticide will kill good bugs too, so use sparingly.
I would wish you luck, but you don’t need it. Just follow the three rules and watch your little garden flourish!
Rebecca – Guest Blogger
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