Hairy Pots!

February 22, 2010

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Just thought I’d share the unusual new plant pots that I’m trialling. They’re from the Hairy Pot Plant Company. The pots are made from organically grown coconuts specifically the outer husk fibre (coir fibre) which is the main waste product of the coconut farms. Apparently plants grown in these pots are healthier and stronger and have a better root system. They do need to be watered in a slightly different way though. Once your plants are established or if you have purchased the pots with plants already in them (there’s many choices available on the company’s website) the whole pot can be planted straight into the ground where it will gradually rot away. There’s lots more information here.

hairy pots

It will be interesting to see the difference between plants grown in these pots compared to the usual plastic ones and I will write about my experiences later in the year.

If anyone has tried these, feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.

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After the short days of winter and the recent cold weather, it was good to see my first snowdrop and a couple of early daffodils a week ago. They are one of the first signs of Spring and this fills me with hope and the excitement that soon I can get out into the herb garden, sow seeds, prune and just enjoy pottering around every now and then.

That may be a little while away though so in the meantime to cheer myself up as I emerge from winter into spring I do a few of these things:

  • Browse seed catalogues like the inspiring one from Suffolk Herbs or Jekka’s ‘taster’ catalogue which you can download here: http://www.jekkasherbfarm.com/index.asp (you could also check out my list of 28 places to get your herb seeds) and then I list the seeds that I’d like to sow this year. If you want to plan when to sow your herb seeds and plant the seedlings out you might like to use the handy herb planner created by Little House in The Suburbs – you can find the link in one of my previous blog posts: Herb Garden Plans.
  • Sketch ideas for layouts for the garden or containers.
  • Find new recipes to try out with the herbs that I already have. I know there won’t be enough hours in the day to do them all but I can dream for now…..
  • Bring freshly cut sprigs of rosemary indoors and put them in vases around the house to enjoy their scent and to add a bit of greenery to the house.
  • Make a couple of simple room sprays with some uplifting scents eg rosemary (again!), mandarin, lemon balm  (melissa officinalis) and lemon.
  • Make and use some bath oils scented with either rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) or lavender essential oils to help me chill out.
  • Have fun mixing some essential oils and jojoba oil together to test different combinations and find a favourite.
  • This year I’m using up my chilli pepper harvest from last year in stir fries which definitely wakes me up especially when I also add garlic and ginger (to boost the immune system)!

I’d love to hear how you use herbs, spices and essential oils at this time of year or your herby plans for the Spring.

This blog post is part of the UK herbarium blog party which this month is hosted by Elizabeth Marsh of Apotheblogary, the theme being ‘Emerging from Winter With Herbs’.  Please visit her blog to find links to lots of other UK herb blogger’s posts covering herbal remedies on this subject.

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Herb Garden Design

January 28, 2010

herbgardenflowersIf you want to know where to start in planning your herb garden, the first step is to identify your overall aim for your herb garden and to write your wish list of herbs with the help of herb books or herb seed and plant catalogues or inspiration from herb gardens that you have visited. On an older blog post you can see a list of herb seed suppliers many of whom have catalogues  and there are a few more on my useful links page here.

Where do you start? Well, it has to be….with you; what do you want? To help you find out, you will need to answer the following questions:

1. Which herbs do you currently use or would you like to use?
Do you want herbs for fragrance, decoration, crafts, culinary or medicinal use? If you’re not sure, you could start by outlining the types of herbs you’d like e.g. evergreen, annuals, perennials, tall/medium/low growing, or choose a theme for some inspiration. Possible themes include lemon-scented herbs, edible herb flower plants, scented garden, herb tea, medicinal, sensory, herbs to attract bees and butterflies, herbs by flower colour and so on.

If you choose herbs that will be happy in your soil type and position in your garden, you are more likely to succeed. At this stage you can write down your wish list of herb plants which you may need to whittle down later on depending on the space you have available because herbs will need plenty of light and space to avoid growing too tall and spindly due to competition from each other.

2. What would you like to use your garden for?
Is it to sit and relax in (if yes, put some seating on your wish list)? Entertain? For children to play in (in this case be careful to avoid or place out of easy reach any poisonous herbs)? Potter around in? Vegetable growing (consider herb companion planting)? Will there be any pets in the garden which may affect the herbs grown or positioning of them? eg catnip!

3. Do you prefer flowers/large plants/shrubs/lots of colour/textures?

4. Do you want a separate area or to mix herbs with vegetables? Mix herbs into existing borders? Have plants only in containers or all three?

5. How much space do you want to allocate to herbs/how many containers do you want/how many can you fit in (including window boxes, hanging baskets and pots)? Will herbs be grown indoors or outdoors?

6. You also need to consider how much time you want to spend maintaining the garden and how much money you want to spend on it. Do you want it to be low maintenance? Will you buy in plants or grow your own? Do your ideas involve changing or adding any hard landscaping? Make a note of this as well.

Other points to note:

A formal garden will need regular maintenance in retaining the shapes of your design and keeping hedging trimmed.

Annual herbs will need replacing each year – either bought in or sown from seed in the spring.

Frost tender plants will need a place where they can be brought in for the winter.

It is very likely that your aim will be a combination of these and other factors.

Step one is therefore to answer the questions above to determine your overall aim and to decide how much work and money you want to put in.

Copyright 2009-2011 Madeleine Giddens All worldwide rights reserved.

This article is based on an extract from chapter 1 of my e-book Your Dream Garden in 7 Easy Steps.

Shameless promotion: The rest of this step is detailed in my e-book Your Dream Herb Garden In 7 Easy Steps which is currently at the bargain price of £9.95. To read more about this book including testimonials and details of bonuses available, please click the link above.

It’s a great time to start planning your herb garden and make sure you have the seeds you need.

I’d love to hear which herbs you plan to have/sow this year, just leave a comment below, you might just inspire someone with your choices!

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