The air’s beginning to cool but that doesn’t mean your garden needs to go into hibernation. Impress at your next dinner party by serving a meal made with herbs from your own green patch – you don’t need lots of space to set one up. Here’s a simple, balcony-suitable guide from local edible garden specialist Sarah Brill:
- The set up
Good soil is essential for healthy growth and pot size will determine how much care you will need to give your herbs. The simple equation is: big pot = less work. The bigger the pot, the more nutrients your herbs have to feed on. If the pot is smaller it will require more watering and feeding. Either way, never let your pots completely dry out! This kills all good microbes in the soil.
- Get into position
If you can, place your garden in a spot where it can receive morning sun. Afternoon sun can be very harsh – although of course, in winter this is less so. If you are only working with shade or dappled light, try growing parsley and mint. Keep in mind mint likes its own pot and needs plenty of water. You can also set up double pots: one in the kitchen and the other in a sunny spot and swap them around regularly.
- The right selection
Almost everything grows well in winter in Sydney, except for basil. The easiest herbs to start with are parsley, oregano, chives, thyme and rosemary. Rosemary and thyme like lots of sun and can cope with drier conditions, so keep an eye on the weather.
- Waste not want not
Whatever you decide to go with, it’s important to grow what you eat or find alternative ways to use up what you grow. A good trick is to keep your herbs near where you cook so you always remember to grab them. Best not to buy herbs wrapped in plastic, as often they are not fully used up and a large portion, along with its wrapping, ends up in the bin.
Don’t be intimidated – most herbs grow all year round in Sydney and don’t mind pots, so they’re great for balconies and small spaces.
About Sarah Brill
Sarah is one half of the team behind Grow. Eat. Enjoy and has run edible garden workshops for the City of Sydney. She grew up in Perth where there was always plenty of room for a vegetable patch. While continuing to work in private gardens, Sarah works in pre-schools, primary schools, high schools and after school care, advising, installing and maintaining sustainable and edible gardens. She works with organisations like OzHarvest and has held workshops and installed gardens for commercial businesses. She finds great satisfaction in passing on her gardening knowledge to adults and children.