DIY salad bench

DIY salad bench

Here’s a clever idea for growing salad greens and herbs year round – a salad bench that can easily be positioned on a sunny deck, a patio – anywhere you like, really. It can also be used for sowing your cut flower seeds, raising them to seedling stage, before they’re ready to plant out. Head to the Sweet Living website for step-by-step instructions and photos.

Put a cork in it

Plant marker made from wine cork

Here’s a clever idea for using up all those wine corks you’ve been saving. Make them into plant markers. Lisa from Shine Your Light made these crafty tags in just 5 minutes with nothing more than a cork, a wooden skewer and a permanent marker. Lisa got her inspiration from Rachel over at My Chic Life. Check them out.

Herb bouquet

Herb bouquet in basket

My obsession for baskets continues. How sweet is this herb bouquet in its wicker ‘vase’? You could also plant your herbs in the basket (choose basil, coriander, thyme, etc) and include it on the table when dining outdoors. Guests can help themselves to fresh herbs. This lovely idea comes from Blomsterverksad.

Wall herb garden

herb garden in triangle container

Here’s a snazzy trick for growing herbs in small spaces. Build a triangle-shaped planter and hang it on your wall. This fabulous garden hangs over at the rustic Isa restaurant in Willamsburg (check other garden pics out here), where the owner grows some of the restaurant’s produce on the roof. Clever, I say.

Herb garden ideas

Short on space? Grow your herbs in baskets, or utilise that awkward slope with a retaining wall garden. Large-space gardeners might as well go the whole hog.

Images: herb baskets from House to Home; retaining wall garden designed by Jamie Durie and featured here; Martha Stewart’s herb garden; and the lovely Lopez Island Kitchen Gardens.

Quick herb posy

If you want to whip up a quick posy for the dinner table, head to your herb garden. Purple-leaf basil makes a sumptuous display, alongside lemon balm and tarragon, a single coreopsis bloom (the yellow bloom with a reddish-brown centre) and chocolate cosmos (Cosmos astrosanguineus). From the clever girls at Studio Choo.

Calendula: a superhero for blooms and medicine

calendula petals
calendula and cosmos
When it comes to multi-purpose medicinal herbs, calendula is an all-round superhero. Its commonly used in treatments for burns, scalds, cuts, abrasions, rashes and infections in Western herbal medicine – it’s definitely the darling of many herbalists and homeopaths. I chatted with Auckland-based homeopath Tricia Curtis recently, who’s completely sold on the plant. “If you could have just one healing plant,” she says, “it would be calendula. It’s just an all-round marvellous healer.”

The brilliant-petalled pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) is a key component in many of Tricia’s handmade herbal products (check the bottom of this article for her recipe for a DIY multi-purpose calendula cream), utilised for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.  [Read more…]

Q&A: Why is my rosemary looking so scraggly?

Rosemary in flower

Q. My rosemary plant is looking a little sad. Should I be pruning or feeding it?

A. Take a look first where it is planted. Rosemary likes a free-draining soil. If planted in waterlogged soils, plants may succumb to root rot. Check to see if water pools around your plant after watering or after a rainy spell. If it does, it might be best to shift it to a more free-draining spot. Incorporate grit or pumice into your soil to ensure better drainage. Rosemary also likes a slightly limy soil. If your soil is particularly acidic, add lime to make it more alkaline. An occasional liquid feed can benefit plants, but it’s not essential. However, I would recommend giving your rosemary a light prune, even just a tip prune, each year to maintain its shape and prevent legginess. Wait until after flowering to prune, and avoid cutting back into leafless wood as it won’t resprout. Jane

This gorgeous photo comes from here.

Basil growing tips + basil bouquets

Polaroid basil bouquet
Growing basil in the garden? It’s a good idea to snip off any flowers that develop to encourage your plants to keep producing leaves. But don’t turf them out. Display them in a vase in your kitchen. These cute herb posies, from Better Homes and Gardens, are visually as well as aromatically satisfying.

Varieties to grow
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is the most commonly grown basil in our gardens, but there are many different cultivars, as well as several related species. [Read more…]

Plant a thyme lawn

Thyme lawn from Rose NotesA fragrant thyme lawn is a fine substitute for grass, particularly in an area that’s hot and dry. Thyme is drought-tolerant, and produces masses of purple, pink or white flowers in spring or summer. You can plant a single variety en masse or a selection of different varieties to produce a patchwork effect. [Read more…]