After my encounter with the very inspirational medical herbalist Patrizia Bronzi (see blog post: fancy a herbal remedy?), my mind could not waver from thoughts about creating my very own little patch of herbal wonder! After leaving Patrizia’s beautifully nutritious and inspiring herb garden the first question I asked myself was ‘why haven’t I done this sooner?’ But, like with many things in life, the answer to this question was simple; creating my own herb garden had always been put off due to a busy schedule and well, I think many of us have a little secret list of excuses as to why we have not done something that we wished we had!
The first step in making my herb garden a reality was quite straightforward; I went out and purchased Lolo Houbein’s gorgeous book, One Magic Square.
After much praise and recommendation by Patrizia, I had no hesitation in buying this book; and neither should you! It is an absolute treasure trove of simple and wonderful herb, veggie and garden knowledge for everyone from the novice gardener (just like me!) to even the experienced gardener. A little magic square publication, Lolo’s book covers the basics like where, when and how to plant herbs and vegetables. It also provides extensive descriptions and information about each plant, how they grow best and what we can do to promote an efficient and fulfilling herb garden. The idea of ‘one magic square’ is a concept that reaffirms herbalist Patrizia’s belief that you have to make the most of what you’ve got; even if it is only a 1m x 1m patch of soil in your backyard.
So to celebrate our lovely Queens birthday, I decided that my long awaited patch of herbal wonder would finally get to see my little patch of backyard soil! In preparation for my public holiday project, I made a quick trip to our local nursery, The Green Room, the day before. Here, I purchased two bags of potting mix (my garden bed was already full of soil so this was just to mix it up a little), a small bag of organic blood & bone, fertiliser pellets, a selection of seedlings and a small selection of loose seeds.
First thing was first, preparing the soil. Using a shovel and my extensive upper body strength (which is basically little to none!), I combined the two bags of potting mix with the soil that was already in the garden bed. Whoever said gardening was for the faint hearted was lying; this soil meant business and that’s what it got! I made sure that every inch of my soil was overturned and properly aerated and in exchange I received an increased heart rate. See I knew there would be endless benefits in becoming a herb and veggie gardener! I then had to cover the garden bed with half of the blood & bone mix. I basically let the rake do the work here, ensuring that the B&B was evenly dispersed through the top soil. A quick watering of the entire bed completed the preparation stage and by now even I needed a little watering myself!
The first plant that had the pleasure of immersing its roots in my very well-prepared garden bed was a little rosemary bush! I decided to plant the rosemary in the back corner of my garden bed as I know they can grow quite high.
Really, planting little seedlings was quite easy once I got the hang of it. This was my process: dig a little hole, add a dash of water, remove your seedling from the pot, loosen the roots a little and then nestle it in its new home! Surround it with soil, packing it in tightly (but not too tight), finish off with a light sprinkle of fertiliser and a much deserved drink of water! Voila! I then proceeded to plant the rest of my seedlings; parsley, garlic and mixed lettuce. I arranged them in a very neat and tidy fashion, knowing well and good that this would soon change! But hey, I am a bit of a perfectionist, so it had to be neat and tidy to begin with; whatever form they take as they grow will be completely fine with me! I added six little marigolds to this mix as Lolo and the nursery hand at The Green Room suggested they grow well with herbs and vegetables, especially lettuce. I also planted a single passionfruit marigold; the smell of its leaves reminded me of summer and topping my morning fruit salad with a fresh passionfruit! Yum!
The next job I had was to plant my loose seeds. As it is only the beginning of winter I was a little dubious about planting seeds but I gave it a go regardless. Along the back of the garden bed I sowed chives and at the front I sowed roma tomatoes and mixed lettuce. Whether or not these little seeds will take off is yet to be determined but hopefully with a little tender loving care I can help them grow!
After turning over the last inch of soil to cover the mixed lettuce seeds, my herb garden was complete! I took a step back and again felt very excited about the prospect of being able to harvest my own little herbs and vegetables! We all know there is nothing quite like using super fresh ingredients straight from your own garden!
Here is a sketch of the final layout of my garden bed.