Learn more about how to grow culinary and medicinal Herbs and the kinds of garden designs and containers you can grow in.

Easy Guide to Growing Basil

How to Plant, Grow, Use and Harvest Basil

Easy Guide to Growing Basil - How to Grow Basil + Planting, Using & Harvesting Tips

Why Grow Basil?

As a gardener and cook, I couldn’t bear to have a garden without Basil. This fragrant herb is not only grown for its flavour but also its many health benefits. I use it in our kitchen as much for its delicious taste as I do for its medicinal properties. Interested in growing basil? Try it in a pot, garden or on your kitchen bench as sprouts or microgreens. Every year, I allocate ‘prime real estate’ space to basil in pots, as well as around my garden. Read on for how you can use this versatile herb.

 

Basil Varieties – Which Basil should you Grow?

Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) is a member of the Mint family (Lamiaceae). Like its mint ‘cousins’, basil comes in a large range of aromatic varieties, with flavours to please even the fussiest taste buds. Annual varieties will last you a season and then provide you with free seeds. Perennial cultivars last much longer and are even better value. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Sweet Basil and Genovese are two of the most popular basil choices for pesto as they have mild sweet flavours.

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Easy Guide to Growing Microgreens

Second only to sprouts, microgreens are the quickest food crop we urban gardeners can grow! If you have limited time, space or gardening skills let me introduce you to growing microgreens. Tasty, nutrient-dense ‘fast food’ in just a few easy steps.

Introduction to Growing Microgreens

In this video, I give you a brief introduction to microgreens with a tips summary at the end. Dig in!

What are Microgreens?

With sprouts, you eat the fully germinated seed. I think of sprouts as the ‘babies’ of the plant world. A seed that bursts open with the first root and shoot(s). Whereas sprouts are seeds that germinate by being soaked and rinsed in water, microgreens are grown in soil.

During seed germination, the cotyledon(s) or seed leave(s) emerge from the soil first. [A cotyledon is part of the embryo within the seed of the plant.]  Through photosynthesis, the cotyledon(s) provide initial food to give the plants a burst of energy for the true leaves to develop.

Microgreens are the next stage in a plant’s development, kind of like the ‘toddlers’ of the plant world. Microgreens can be harvested when the germinated seeds have developed tiny roots and at least their first true leaves. They have similar health benefits to sprouts, but greater nutritional value.

So you can add minerals to the seed raising mix to boost the nutrient value and flavour. These young seedlings are harvested smaller than baby salad leaves.

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How to Plant out a Herb Garden

Have you ever ended up with ‘dried herb arrangements’ (those that died of thirst or sunburn)? Or herbs that rotted and drowned due to waterlogged roots?  Whether you want to plant herbs in a pot, garden bed or a herb spiral, my 5 Step Guide to Planting Herbs can help you successfully choose the best position and maintain your herb garden.

In this article I also share key tips on where to plant herbs so they thrive. Understanding the kind of microclimate each herb prefers, can make all the difference to growing them successfully! So ‘dig in’!

 

Lushly planted mature herb spiral | The Micro Gardener

“The construct itself gives variable aspects and drainage, with sunny dry sites for oil-rich herbs such as thyme, sage, and rosemary, and moist or shaded sites for green foliage herbs such as mint, parsley, chives, and coriander.” – Bill Mollison

 

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4 Step Guide to Building a Herb Spiral

Want to make your own vertical herb spiral garden? This compact space saving design can be made with just a few basic steps.

Construction materials and methods vary. So after deciding on the best position and gathering your materials, you can have one built the same day.

Stone filled gabion walls are an elegant twist on this herb spiral | The Micro Gardener

Depending on your budget and taste, herb spirals can be made very economically or be quite elaborate like this one with stone filled gabion walls.

 * [The original link to this image (via Cara-Ornamentals) is no longer available. I have no control over this & apologise for any inconvenience but you’ll find alternative resources below.]

If you like this particular design and want to learn to make the curved wire baskets, see the end of this post for videos and wire basket suppliers for Gabion Herb Spirals. These are some basic instructions for making a gabion wall or visit BlondeMafia or Garden Drum. More instructional videos for gabions are here and here. For the tutorial steps, read on!
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15 Benefits of a Herb Spiral in Your Garden

Herb Spiral Design

Do you have limited sun, space or time to garden? Want a highly productive, energy efficient way to grow food?  Then consider a herb spiral design in your garden. Creating a Herb Spiral close to your kitchen might be your perfect solution.

 The Herb Spiral design is easily accessible from all sides: to plant, water, fertilise and harvest. This large long herb spiral has a dry microclimate at the top and a moist zone at the bottom. | The Micro Gardener

The Herb Spiral design is easily accessible from all sides: to plant, water, fertilise and harvest. This large long herb spiral has a dry microclimate at the top and a moist zone at the bottom.

What is a Herb Spiral?

The Herb Spiral is a highly productive and energy efficient, vertical garden design. You can stack plants horizontally AND vertically to maximise space. It’s a practical and attractive solution for urban gardeners. A herb spiral design is typically 1.5 – 2m (5 – 6.5ft) wide in diameter at the base and rises to 1.0 – 1.3m (3.2 – 4.2ft). The centre of the spiral is at the highest point. The spiral ramp provides a planting area large enough to fit in all your common culinary herbs.
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How to Grow & Use Nasturtiums

Have you heard the saying: “Be nasty to nasturtiums“?  There seems to be some truth to this, because these low-maintenance carefree herbs thrive in a poor, dry soil without a lot of water – or work.  This makes nasturtiums a plant of choice for many thrifty and busy gardeners!

 

How to Grow and Use Nasturtiums - Edible Flowers with Multiple Uses

How to Grow and Use Nasturtiums – Edible Flowers with Multiple Uses

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20 Reasons to Grow this Amazing Herb

Do you grow herbs? They can provide a whole heap of benefits from culinary to medicinal uses and even a splash of colour and fragrance. Some flowering herbs like nasturtiums really earn a special place in the garden because of the added value they provide. So check out these 20 uses for nasturtiums – they may surprise you!

20 reasons to grow nasturtiums

20 reasons to grow nasturtiums

 

Colourful nasturtiums are one herb that’s easy to fall in love with. This plant is an absolute winner in my book. Whilst many think of nasturtiums as just pretty flowers, these attractive herbs have an amazing array of benefits to offer you.

There are several types of nasturtium. The one I can never get enough of in our garden is ‘Tropaeolum majus’ (commonly known as Indian Cress).  Not ‘Nasturtium Officinale’ that grows in water and is often referred to as watercress!

 

Nasturtiums – More than just a pretty face!

Aside from stealing the limelight in any garden with their dazzling display of colour, nasturtiums are one of the most multi-functional plants you can grow.

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Need Herbs in a Hurry? Grow Rocket!

Want to learn to grow rocket? The humble herb known as Rocket or Arugula is one of the easiest, fastest foods to grow.  Perfect in pesto, delicious in dips … this slightly peppery green has many bonus health benefits. So dig in!

How to grow rocket tutorial - With both culinary and medicinal uses – try adding this easy-to-grow edible to your garden.

With both culinary and medicinal uses – try adding this easy-to-grow edible to your garden.

 

Why grow rocket?

‘Pocket Rocket’ is Packed with Incredible Health Benefits

  • According to Isabell Shipard in her informative book How Can I Grow Herbs in My Daily Life? rocket is a rich source of sulforaphane. A powerful anti-cancer, anti-microbial and even anti-diabetic compound.  It’s also a potent trigger for detoxifying blood and cells and helps promote production of cancer-preventative enzymes.
  • The fresh leaves are highly alkaline and rich in anti-oxidants.
  • The leaves contain phytochemicals that have protective and disease preventive properties. These include countering the carcinogenic effects of estrogen and helping protect against prostate, breast, cervical, colon and ovarian cancers, by their ability to inhibit cancer cell growth and the cytotoxic effects on cancer cells. (more…)

Grow Your Own Herb Tea Garden

Want to Grow a Herb Tea Garden?

With so many culinary and medicinal health benefits, a herb tea garden is a must for every gardener. Even if you just have a balcony or tiny space, herbs have so many uses.

Grow your own herb tea garden - easy herbs to grow, brew and use for health

Grow your own herb tea garden – easy herbs to grow, brew and use for health

Easy Herb Teas to Grow & Brew

If you’re not already growing your own herb garden, hopefully you’ll be inspired to start!  There are a wide range of delicious and aromatic herbs that can be grown for hot or iced herb teas and medicinal use.

 

Sprigs of fresh mint for herb tea

Pick sprigs of fresh mint for herb tea

 

Getting Started with Herb Teas

Chamomile (German) Tea

  • A mild flavoured relaxing tea that I’ve used hundreds of times over the years. Helps to calm and soothe the spirit, settle stomach aches and indigestion and is a great tea for helping you relax, destress and get to sleep.  It goes well with a little honey and a slice of lemon.  You can also use the tea as a hot foot bath for tired or sore feet! (more…)

Harvesting Vegetables & Herbs

How to Pick Herbs and Vegies for Top Crops

Have you always wanted to know the ideal time to harvest your vegetables and herbs?  What about the best way to pick them without damaging the plant? This post answers both these questions and I share some tips from personal experience to help  maximise your yield.

Home grown produce from our kitchen garden | The Micro Gardener

I keep a basket with scissors and a sharp knife handy for daily harvesting.

 

Timing – WHEN to harvest

The short answer to this is – the timing varies with each crop. However, there are some handy guidelines on what to grow when that give you a good indication approximately how long you have to wait to savour the delicious veggies and herbs you grow!

Strawberries are ready to harvest when they are full size and ripen to a dark red

Strawberries are ready to harvest when they are full size and ripen to a dark red

Here are a few tips … (more…)