Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DIY herb garden

I want a pet. A cat, dog, rabbit, parakeet, I don't care what. But unfortunately the house is a mess and I don't have a job, both of which are deterring us from adopting a little something furry. I am looking for a job, to those who are interested, I have been applying and making calls, dealing with rejection. Don't give up on me though! I'm coming workforce! But if you do have a job opening in Sydney you would like me to hear about, just drop a me line :-)

So, the next closest thing to a pet I could think of was a plant. I am terrible with plants but I wanted to give this another shot. When I say terrible, I mean awful. I once had a plant that committed suicide, when I got home it was there, dead, on the floor. It had jumped all on its own accord. 

This time I wanted to do it properly, and ask for help, not just online help but human help. So I went to a nursery to talk to someone about how to grow a herb garden. Because that is what you do with your pets, right? you eat them.

The first thing the nursery employee did was laugh hard on my face at the way I pronounced "herb". I said "erb" as if the 'h' was silent (which by the way it is in my mother tongue). After she dried her tears and got a hold of herself, she made the point to mock me some more by continually repeating "H-erb garden", you want to grow "HHH-erbs, for a HHHHHHH-erb garden".

Then she said all I need is water, sunshine, a good pot, and good soil. AHA!!! soil!!!! I never did anything special about soil before I just used dirt. I am sure some of you guys learned this in kindergarten but I didn't. Potting mix comes already fertilized and contains some fancy shmancy slow release nutrients which keep the soil rich and tasty for 6 months, aka a full harvest. I bought the *premium* potting mix, nothing less for my little friends. I bought 10 liters but ended up using slightly less than 5.

I chose my favorite herbs first: cilantro (here referred to as coriander), parsley, basil, rosemary and lemon thyme. I was going for thyme when I picked the plant, but turns out I chose lemon thyme: looks like thyme but smells and tastes like lemon. Your tastebuds will be tripping. The lady told me I could chose anything except for mint. Mint grows tall and the roots deep, like a weed, and it will take over the soil and sunshine in a garden. Therefore mint should always be planted isolated from other herbs and vegetables.

I chose the pot on her recommendation. This pot has a compartment or cavity at the bottom, where water sits and keeps the roots moist. This mechanism prevents both over and underwatering. The big problem with overwatering in case you didn't know, is that if water stagnates around the roots, these will rot and the plant goes to plant heaven. Note: this little cavity might be a breeding ground for mosquitos later in the summer, so if possible it should be covered with a mesh so the air can still flow

Now fill the pot almost to the top with your mix, and I recommend you leave a lot more room than I did in the picture. After wards I had to take about half of that out, I forgot that the plants are attached to some soil of their own as well. 

You have to losen the dirt around the roots a little bit and transfer to the new pot. then cover them up with more of the potting mix. And voila!!! Place them in a spot where the sun will hit directly for most of the day. I guarantee that if your herbs are in partial shade they will die. Been there done that. 

Another tip I learned is to water the herbs once a day either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Apparently they don't like it if you water them in the middle of the day when the hot sun is blazing.

Yes I named them, so what? Don't you name your pets?


Parisa said...

I say _erb too. The h pronouncing is a British thing, I think.

Emilia said...

Naming plants is only entry-level weirdness. My bottle opener is called Gerald. Just so you know.

mursya said...

Well done! But aren't you going to put them into food you cook? Sorry if it sounds terrible..

I love violets, and have a lot of them at home in Kazakhstan. I went on violents exhibitions and bought leaves, not whole pots, 'cause I was checking myself whether I could grow them properly. Here I missed my violets, so I brought 4 leaves from Kazakhstan in April. I was worried that they grew not very fast and not blossomed until one day I found 1 small flower deep down in leaves :) Now 2 out of 4 pots are blossoming, I feel releaved!

I also started to grow orchids. Everybody in Switzerland has orchids, but I assume they buy them and throw away when they have no more flowers, cause it is hard to grow orchids with all this proper tempreture, etc. I have 1 for 1 year that almost died and recovered and now another one small and planning on buying 3d one :)

This summer I also grew cornflowers on our balcony; it was kinda present for Ihar 'cause it is a common flower for Belarus, they even have it all in traditional clothes motives and embroidery, etc. So I grew the whole big pot similar to yours with herbs. And of course parsley-basil-dill. Never experiment with parsley growing out of seed, it takes months to have it a little one.

And good luck with job search! I'm sure you will get the perfect one!

jslo5203 said...

Leo it is great that you are growing herbs, chili peppers are also very easy to grow, decorative and great for giving food an extra kick. Chili peppers can be sweet or hot, if you can not find them in australia i can send you seeds by mail. The Australians are correct about the H, in english it is not a silent consonant like in spanish, think of Herbert, Herbie, Hewlett, How, Etc. Love dad

Anonymous said...

2things made me smile about this post:
1. named herbs
2. _erbs.

Still loling at 2!!!!
I've never heard herb being said like that before. It sounds like what Homer Simpson would say when he's thinking (at least it did in my head).
I should ask Alyssa to say it for me next week ;)

Mr Leo's Dad: can't send seeds to Australia, DAFF will take them away :(

I love your erb garden, it's so cute :) All my plants are dying because of the cold. I miss the sun.