Our herb story
We’ve been trying to grow our own herbs and vegetables for over a year now. Although our intents were noble, ethical and green, we’ve had plant issues from day one. Questions of whether green fingeredness was born or learned were often asked. We’ve had our fair share of disappointments, happy moments and eureka moments, but for the most part they’ve been for the worse.
- We had broccoli root-eating ants.
- Then we had broccoli-devouring caterpillars, that you could only see when they were big, and when the had eaten half of your broccoli.
- We had barren broccolis that wouldn’t produce anything to eat - so they were a great waste of time.
- So we got rid of the broccoli plants.
- Then we had millions of aphids - probably all of Durban’s aphids, on our chives and spring onions. These aphids were purple.
- These aphids wouldn’t go away, even though we plucked at them day and night. And aphids kill plants like no other.
- So we got rid of a bunch of plants (and a bunch of aphids) and a bunch of soil, and dug in our stunted plants.
- We got rid of our old soil - who knew what bad stuff was in there?
- Then we had our soil leaking down our wall, which is less plant-related and more house-maintenance related.
- And then our amazing tomato plants’ leaves starting getting mouldy and falling off.
- And then more aphids, which were white, came and started munching our new parsley.
But all this has aged us greatly in plant-years. We’ve learned a lot and realised that it’s not that hard, but also not that easy to grow these plants. We’re realising what works and what doesn’t. One thing that we figured out is that not all nursery employees know as much about plants, or herbs and veggies, as we thought they did - they may have a bunch of plants and herbs standing lazily outside in the sun but don’t be fooled. That being said, we have got most of our help from various nurseries around Durban. Our best experience has been at Jungle garden nursery in Sherwood.
But it’s all been worth it. The feeling of being outside, gardening in your pots and getting your hands and patio dirty, with the person you love most is rewarding like nothing else. Eating your own lettuce and tomatoes in a salad and having them taste fresher and sweeter than the those that you bought in the shop is smile-producing. Sprinkling your own rosemary or parsley on top of or into a meal makes you feel like a master-chef and master-gardener in one. We’ve had some really fun and rewarding times.
- We’ve eaten the finest cherry tomatoes in Durban from our first harvest.
- We found and painted our Clover milk-bottle seedling hub.
- Eating our own herbs for the first time, and countless other times after that, has been a blessing.
- Winning the war on aphids with a bit of Jeyes and water was fist-in-the-air inducing.
- Squishing aphids and caterpillars in between our fingers has been therapeutic.
- We’ve watched our flowers bloom and shine in the sun.
- We’ve watched our plants grow. Our tomato bush grew like a weed and our current parsley is growing really well.
- Buying pots and crates to house our yummy home-grown food has been fun as well.
We’ve learned a bunch of things. And I guess we’re still going to learn a bunch of things. Maybe we should get a book on how to this properly, but we like doing things our way, and we like learning, and we like sharing. Here’s some things that we’ve learned.
- Use a good potting soil and fertiliser mix. At the moment we’re using a mixture of Silent gardener, potting soil and fertiliser.
- Use worm-wee every now and again, when watering your plants.
- Try not to replant, or move your plants, too much - it seems to stunt their growth.
- Use Jeyes and water to get rid of aphids, along with simply squishing them with your fingers.
- Look daily for issues with your plants. And look closely. Tiny green caterpillars are difficult to see on a green plant - when they are noticeable, the gaping holes in your leaves may be more noticeable.
Some things that we haven’t tried, but would still like to do is sing to them, speak to them, and plant them in a real garden, one day, with soil unending. I’m just amazed at how each plant, when in seed form, is so small and indistinguishable from the next and yet they all grow up to be different plants that smell and taste different.
This is our latest bunch of parsley - almost as thick and gorgeous as my head of hair.
Some fresh produce.
The smallest of our tomato plants. The others were massive bushes.
Our luscious lettuce.
These were our humble beginnings. Since then we’ve become experts at getting our hands dirty. It just feels natural.
Our rad Clover milk-bottle seedling hub.
Our first bunch of seedlings ever. What a moment.
The resilient, but more-plant-than-veggie broccoli.
The biggest of munchers.
These were crates that we got from the Natal Midlands.
Parsley prior to digging-in. They got progressively worse after this.
Our first flower in our Clover milk-bottle seedling hub.
Marigolds - really nice flowers.