GROWING herbs is a great transition to growing vegetables because beginner gardeners can achieve results without a high skill level.
The Plant Shack’s Peter Popenko said the biggest-selling herbs were parsley, mint and basil because there were more well-known uses for them in cooking.
He said gardeners did not need a designated herb garden because the plants could be tucked in anywhere.
“I’ve seen parsley look amazing in bed of flowers. It looks just beautiful,” Mr Popenko said.
“Mint is something you’d want to keep in a pot because it goes crazy and it’s easier to dump when it gets old.”
It is important to remember herbs have a fairly short lifespan, about one year, and need to be replaced with a new plant when they start looking woody and untidy or go to seed or flower.
Don’t panic and think you’re to blame, when the time comes.
Mr Popenko said most herbs preferred morning sun and refuge from the afternoon heat and, like most plans, they grow better at different times of the year.
“In general, herbs perform better during winter. They’re much more vigorous over winter and hold their colour quite well,” he said.
Here are his growing tips for the herbs most popular with gardeners.
Note: The most important thing to remember is all herbs like regular feeding. Most benefit from a small addition of Dolomite. In a large pot, add one tablespoon during the plant’s lifespan in conjunction with slow-release fertiliser and an occasional feed of liquid fertiliser such as Triple Boost, PowerFeed or Searles Flourish.
This herb is best in a pot of its own. Plant in a good-quality potting mix and use a saucer as the plant gets older, so it can draw on the water during the day if needed. Mint prefers morning sun and afternoon shade.
This, sometimes hard to grow herb, performs best in the cooler months and is prone to bolting, flowering and seeding. You need to keep it in the growth phase, avoiding stress, drying out or running out of food as this will trigger flowering. Use a fertiliser high in nitrogen such as fish emulsion, Triple Boost or PowerFeed. Do not use Flourish on coriander as the high level of potassium will promote flowering. Avoid full sun by selecting a position with morning sun and protection from the harsh afternoon sun and heat. The plant will only last for a few months and will need to be replaced. You can buy seeds or get a head-start with a plant from your local nursery.
These are both shrubs and technically not herbs. Mr Popenko said it was important to select the correct pot to avoid over-potting, which would lead to poor drainage and could be fatal to plants. Apply Dolomite twice a year, slow-release fertiliser every 12 weeks and liquid fertiliser every 2-4 weeks. They like good sun and do well on the edges of patios, where it can be quite dry. They don’t like too much water. Do not plant sage with mint, as their watering needs are different.
This herb performs much better in winter than summer and needs regular feeding to keep it in a happy growth cycle if harvesting often. When selecting leaves for cooking, remove old ones, not new growth. Synthetic fertilisers work well such as Thrive All-Purpose and Flourish. Parsley has a higher requirement for trace elements than other herbs. These can be provided through frequent feeding. This can be a problem if potting mix or soil gets too old. Apply liquid fertiliser every two weeks and slow-release fertiliser every 6-10 weeks. Parsley likes sun in winter and more shade in summer to help it survive humidity.
This favourite will only live for about 12 months. You can remove the flowers to extend the life of the plant, but it is worth noting that bees love the flowers and will be attracted to your garden if you leave them be. Feeding requirements are similar to other herbs, including mint, but basil is more prone to pests such as small grasshoppers. You can treat the plant with a molasses spray (2 tbls molasses to 1 litre of water) every seven days. Other organic sprays on the market will also do the job. The plant loves morning run and frequent watering will result in nicer looking leaves that taste better too.
These plants can become a ground cover, so need room to move. Both will happily co-exist with other herbs and will live for about 12 months. They are susceptible to aphids but can be treated with a detergent spray – 10ml detergent in 1 litre of water. Apply generously in the afternoon.
For more gardening tips, visit theplantshack.com.au
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