Grow your own groceries
Spice up your meals with help from horticulturalist Marcelle Swanson.
Spring is the ideal time to start a herb garden. Most herbs are available now and are growing well, quickly settling into garden beds or filling pots, planters and window boxes.
Growing herbs is one of the simplest and easiest ways to start growing even the smallest part of your own food at home and are a wonderful supplement to your pantry.
Perfect for small spaces, fresh herbs can turn simple dishes into gourmet creations and a basic salad into a culinary masterpiece.
If you’re new to growing herbs, here are a few simple tips to get you started.
1. Grow perennial herbs for an extended harvest: rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage are perennial herbs which will give you an abundant harvest all year. Annual or seasonal herbs, like basil and coriander will grow and die in a single season, which is great if you want to make pesto or preserve your herbs for use throughout the year.
2. Keep them close: herbs should be grown in a convenient location, as close to the kitchen or outdoor dining table as possible to make regular picking even easier. You could even recycle some used glass jars and create make-shift pots to keep on your window sill or sunny balcony. Thrifty and sustainable!
Gardening improves health and wellbeing, as well as your meals
3. Plant in full sun: most of our popular culinary herbs have originated from Mediterranean areas, so they thrive in full sun, tolerate periods of drought and like to be cut regularly to stimulate new fresh growth.
4. Grow what you use: when buying plants, it’s easy to get lost in the moment and buy a range of herbs which you wouldn’t normally use. Instead, start with your culinary staples and expand from there – after all, growing your own herbs should help to cut costs too.
Lemon Verbena makes a wonderful and simple fresh tea
5. Herbs don’t need a dedicated garden: herbs readily combine in garden beds with many suitable as ground covers at the front of your garden, like marjoram and thyme. Sage and rosemary also enjoy a bit of group bonding and are suitable as foliage plants among perennials.
Back to basics
Most herbs are very hardy, requiring a little water two-three times a week and an annual application of decomposed manure as mulch in autumn or spring.
Potted herbs will need more frequent watering, but this can be set up as an automated system off a nearby tap if needed.
Whether you live in a home with a lush garden or an apartment with a sunny balcony, growing your own groceries is simpler than you think.
This article was written by Marcelle Swanson, Horticultural Communication Manager at The Diggers Club.
For more growing advice or to shop our range of mail order herbs, visit diggers.com.au.
Diggers Club members receive regular magazines, discounts on all plants, seeds and hardware, free entry to Diggers gardens and expert gardening advice – all while supporting the charitable work of the Diggers Foundation.