Mint for cool summer drinks

By Penny Woodward

Mints grow well in pots

Mints growing in pots at Diggers, Heronswood on the Mornington Peninsula

Mints Mentha spp. Lamiaceae.
The mint family is extremely varied and it is often difficult to identify individual species because of their tendency to hybridise. There is also confusion with both common and scientific names.
Mints are easy to cultivate and can be grown from seed or by root division in spring and summer. As they spread rapidly from underground runners, they should be contained. These days I grow all my mints in pots. This not only stops them from taking over the garden, but also helps to stop them getting mixed up with other mints. They prefer a humus-rich soil, reasonable drainage and semi-shaded condtions, although they will grow in full sun as long as the soil is not too dry.  Read more

The Thrifty Gardener

Review by Penny Woodard

Building the garden you want with whatever you’ve got.

Millie’s personality leaps from every page of this engaging and informative book. In the introduction she says “Experiment, play, plant, cut, kill, compost, dig, and, every now and then , push your luck.” “Your efforts (or lack of them!) can help a garden to thrive or just survive, but don’t stress – tomatoes were making tomatoes well before we got involved.” We so often over complicate gardening and Millie is telling us to just get out there and give it a go. With chapters on planning, designing and building gardens, as well as growing, planting, loving and eating your produce, The Thrifty Gardener is full of fascinating tips as well as careful and sound advice. Millie’s emphasis very definitely reflects the title with suggestions about using found and recycled materials right through the book. In the chapter on growing she looks at bottles for garden edges, wooden pallets to make mobile beds and everything from toasters to polystyrene boxes and food tins as pots. The planting chapter covers plants to grow for fibre and structure, plants for hot spots, for privacy, for birds, for frogs, for windbreaks, for play, for ponds and much more.

I thoroughly recommend this book for both the beginner and more experienced gardener, but especially if you are a do-it-yourself person (most true gardeners are) and/or someone who needs to garden on a small budget. The Thrifty Gardener has a real sense of fun as well as being full of wise thoughts.

Borrow it from your local library, buy it from an independent bookshop or go to the ABC shop to purchase a copy online.

By Millie Ross, $35.00, Harper Collins Publishers

(The book was given to me by the publishers)

Gro Wall

By Penny Woodward

The Gro Wall fits neatly into my seed raising area, taking up very little space

The Gro Wall fits neatly into my seed raising area, taking up very little space

For the last few months I have been experimenting with a Gro Wall. I have been pretty unimpressed with the many different systems for growing plants vertically to make the most use of limited spaces. They all looked pretty high maintenance (especially for water) and most seemed to be only suitable for growing succulents and other similar tough plants. This Gro Wall impressed me with the ease with which it can be put together and the large pots that should allow me to grow herbs and vegetables relatively easily, so I decided to test it out.

It needed to be positioned so that it was easy to access and in a spot where I would remember to water it. So my seed raising area seemed like a good spot. The only drawback was that it was side on to the light. This would mean that those pots on the right of the wall would get much more sun than those on the left. One way of overcoming this problem would be to plant sun loving herbs and vegies on the right, and shade loving on the left, the other is to move the pots on a regular basis so that all pots got equal light. One of the joys of this system is individual pots are easy to move, slotting in and out like drawers.


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