Living in an urban landscape can be incredibly tough to encourage gardening, but is needed in urban areas more than ever. Small spaces, poor soil, fences and cement pavers heating up our yards are all common gardener deterrents. A great way to dip your thumbs in is to start growing some herbs – they will save you money and will green up your window sill, balcony or patio.
Here are my top five herbs to grow in small spaces.
1. Oregano is a really hardy ground cover, it can be grown between pavers, in a pot or as a low growing plant in the front of your garden bed. It spreads like wild fire, so is not hard to get a plant for free if you know someone with oregano. It has pretty pink flowers to brighten up your area, and it doesn’t need too much water so if you forget about it for a few weeks it will come back easily. Try not to neglect it for months on end though..
2. Rosemary is another really hardy plant and can grow in relatively nutrient poor soil, however if you feed it and water it more regularly the soft young foliage is so fragrant and flavoursome in your food. Rosemary can be struck from a cutting, just leave in a jar with a little water with a dash of molasses to encourage roots. Otherwise strike in a pot of good quality potting mix. Rosemary loves the sunshine and has pretty flowers that draw in bees galore.
3. Parsley requires a bit more water and compost to keep it really happy, but grows easily from seed. I popped some seeds in old used potting mix, and saw very little growth, maybe 20cm over 5 months. I pulled out these little plants and repotted in some good quality potting mix with some slow release fertiliser and well rotted manure and saw them triple in size in under two months. Parsley will self seed through your garden, I often let it grow up between the pavers.
4. Thyme is again another really hardy one that doesn’t need a whole lot of love. When you water it the perfume is overwhelming, earthy and sweet and strong. I love to grow my veggies among thyme to disguise them from their predators, often thyme will rub right again my capsicum leaves and choy which I find keeps slaters and slugs at bay.
5. Basil is the bomb. I highly recommend growing from seed as I always find my plants are much stronger. Basil really needs to be watered regularly and have a good source of food. It will reward you with its sweet flavour, along with being a great mosquito repellant and is awesome for bees. This will die off for winter, sometimes I am lucky to get basil through until June. Resow in spring time.
Other favourites are dill with its gorgeous flowers, mint, but be mindful this should never be put in the ground as it will take over, and needs to have wet feet, and coriander, however this one is really tough for me to grow and I know of many others it has been a challenge for. Lemongrass (below) can give great height and change of texture, but again can be invasive so best kept in a pot.
Herbs are not going to grow well and be delicious if planted in unhealthy, water repellent sand, regardless of how hardy they are. When planting make certain to dig in some compost or rotted manure, some leaves or hay to keep the soil loose and to mulch you plants well. Feed with a seaweed emulsion often to get the most our of your herbs. If in pots, repot your plants when you notice water repellent soil or lack of growth. Mix extra organic material and some slow release fertiliser in to your potting mix too.
Ask away if there is more you’d like to know, I hope this is the beginning of something absolutely beautiful for you and your loved ones!