Way back in December when I started this blog (wow, it’s only three months old! December feels like SO LONG AGO!) I had visions of making it all about food: eating it, cooking it, discussing it and growing it. I even said as much in my opening post and my about me page. Well: I’ve sort of done that. But this blog has become hugely focussed on restaurant reviewing with a little bit of cooking. It’s time to talk growing food.
I should preface this talk of gardening by saying: I kill everything. Mint! I’ve killed mint! How does one kill mint? It’s a weed for chrissake!
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you how to kill mint. Never let it be said the Fresh Bread food blog can’t enrich people’s lives. To kill mint:
- Strip nearly all of its leaves to make mojitos.
- Forget to water it.
Hey presto! Dead mint. You can thank me later.
So I’ve established I’m a novice gardener. For Christmas due to some carefully dropped hints, I got a Bunnings voucher and The Edible Balcony book by Indira Naidoo for some inspiration. I live on the sixth level of a relatively modern apartment block. It gets moderately windy up here and the balcony is south-facing. I invested part of my voucher in two plants at Bunnings: a thai basil and a thai chilli.
The thai chilli plant is already covered with chillis which are proving medium hot. I have, so far, only added a couple to minestrone soup to give it a bit of background oomph. They worked well. I can see when it wants a drink, because its leaves start drooping. So far, I haven’t killed it.
The thai basil hasn’t got a strong thai basil flavour (it’s a Floriana cut and cook version). In fact, it tastes like regular old sweet basil. But a large big box hardware retailer couldn’t lie to me, could it? I’ve been throwing it into everything: pasta sauce, on top of home made pizza, rice paper rolls… I’d show you a photo but I’ve denuded it of a lot of its leaves and it’s looking a little sad. (I’ll show you a picture when I eventually kill it, of course!).
So two weeks passed with me tending to the thai basil and thai chilli, and neither had died yet. Time to add to the garden!
I got some pretty cool pot holders (wow, that’s a sentence I never expected to type in my twenties) from Bunnings as well, in the process draining the rest of my voucher. The next step was getting some mint, rosemary and sage cuttings from Mum’s garden last weekend in order to take this balcony garden to the next level.
There seem to be two, or maybe three schools of thought on cuttings. One is: keep them in a glass of water until you see roots, then plant them in potting mix. The other is, plant ‘em straight away (root hormone powder also sounds like a good thing – I didn’t have any) and keep them well watered. I was too impatient to wait so I chucked them straight into the pots. Let’s see how these cuttings go. If I’ve killed mint once, I can do it again.
Is there somewhere on the net that has really active gardening forums? I’d ideally like an Australian based forum with lots of newbie questions in which I can lurk and read to my heart’s content. Suggestions welcome! (And any other balcony gardening suggestions/herb comments also very welcome!).
Edited to add: since I wrote this post and had it sitting scheduled to be posted, I read this great post by Fatbooo about beginning his own balcony garden! Check it out. I like that both of our posts mainly revolve around attempting not to kill our fledgling plants. I look forward to checking in on the progress of his herbs too!