25 November 2016
how to plant dry-loving herbs and lettuces in containers
Planting the Mediterranean herbs
- Dry-loving herbs include sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary and tarragon. They thrive in dry, bony soils that have good drainage and don’t require any extra fertiliser.
- Planting these herbs in a container works well because they require different conditions from most other vegetables and herbs. They’re also shallow-rooted plants so can grow easily in not too much soil.
- Use an organic potting mix in your container – potting mixes contain pumice which helps with drainage. Add a layer of mulch on the top at the end to keep moisture in the soil and help the potting mix from compacting and becoming less free-draining.
- If you’re planting upright rosemary, make it the centrepiece of your container. The other herbs are sprawling in habit.
- The container should be placed in full sun. The hotter the conditions, the better these herbs taste. If you keep your container in a sheltered place and in full sun, the herbs will continue to grow throughout the winter and you can get several years out of them. If they get wet and cold they may not last and will have to be re-planted on an annual basis.
- The flowers are edible and attract beneficial insects. When they flower however, it does diminish the taste of the herbs themselves.
Planting lettuces in containers
- Lettuces are a quick-growing crop with shallow roots, so they work well in a container too. Containers are great for people in apartments or people who have small gardens and they can be taken away with you on holiday.
- In wintertime, you can move a container into a sunny area. In summertime, you can move the container into a shady area. You can have a container near the back door or kitchen, so they’re at arms’ reach. And in a container, lettuces are less likely to be attacked by slugs and snails.
- Fill the container about a third full, then add a handful of sheep pellets. Add another third of potting mix, then place lettuces on the soil, sprinkle a spoonful of rock dust around the roots of the plants and backfill the container with potting mix. Add a layer of mulch over the top and water in well.
- Looseleaf varieties work well in a container as you can pick leaves off as you need them. You’ll be able to start eating the lettuce leaves in about two weeks’ time.
Direct-sown carrots and onions
- We lifted the towels off the carrot and onions seedlings after 10 days and the germination is fantastic. We’ve netted the bed however to keep the birds and the dog off the seedlings.
- The most important thing to do now is keep the soil moist. We’ll thin them once they become a little more established.
Beans and peas
- The Scarlet Runner beans have their first flowers on them and doing very nicely.
- The pukekos have ransacked the Snow Pea plants! It’s too late in the season now to plant more peas as they like cooler temperatures to get established, so we’ll have to wait until autumn till we can plant more peas.
- Our garlic bulbs are sizing up well. We have to keep a close eye on them now for the next 2-4 weeks – if we get a big downpour of rain they might set shoots off and that will mean they won’t store well.
- There are signs of rust on our garlic crop. It’s pretty normal when gardening organically in humid conditions. Rust doesn’t affect the bulbs, but we will give the crop another dose of liquid seaweed to help keep the rust at bay.
Harvesting from our short-turnaround root crop bed and the importance of constantly picking zucchini
- Today we can harvest beautiful, big Florence fennel bulbs, Purplette onions – some of which we’ll leave to grow bigger but can also be eaten as spring onions – and Cylindra beetroot.
- You need to check and probably pick zucchini every day. If you don’t, they’ll turn into marrows before you notice. Also if you don’t pick the zucchini, the plant thinks it doesn’t need to produce any more, that the growing season is over and it sets seed in order to reproduce itself.
Camera: Davian Lorson
Editor: Tom Dyton