Posts Tagged ‘rosemary’

Companions

October 16th, 2010

A visitor to my garden

Long ago our grandmothers in their cottage gardens planted a wide variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables, mixed together in a seemingly random fashion.  But over the generations gardeners have observed that some plants will grow better when planted close to another particular plant, or indeed that the reverse is true.  Some plants like other plants and grow better when planted nearby.  They are companions.  Good friends.

Many herbs can be used to repel pests, some are effective just grown in the garden, while others can be picked and used fresh or dried.

Companion planting and using pest-repellent herbs increased the health and resistance of plants.  For example, a well know one is basil with tomatoes, not only cooked, but grown together.

Nasturtiums will improve the strength and flavour of nearby plants, and are particularly good under apple trees, and near radishes to deter aphids and other bugs.  I have planted some under my roses to check this out.  Aparently aphids also don’t like parsley and our grandmothers quite often planted some in and around the roses to keep the aphids away.

nasturtiums -pretty and useful

nasturtiums - pretty and useful

Rosemary can be sprinkled, fresh or dried, around plants to repel snails and slugs.  It grows well with sage, beans and carrots, but should not be grown near potatoes or tomatoes.Thyme should be planted in odd corners of the garden as it attracts bees and generally benefits plants nearby.  It also repels the cabbage worm, so is a useful companion for cabbages.

rosemary

Our grandmothers would often keep a few Bay leaves in the flour as they prevent weevils from infesting.  If you place a few on shelves they will keep ants away, although some ants can be very determined.  The bay leaves can also be placed in books to protect them from silverfish.  In fact the whole tree is resistant to diseases and pests and will protect other plants in the area. 

Marigolds, as well as being cheerful plants, excrete chemicals from their roots which repel soil nematodes, and of course, grandmother would have never been without her Lavender plants which when used in sachets either on their own or in combination with other dried herbs keep moths and silverfish out of clothes as well as keeping them sweetly scented.

So, plants make good companions both for each other and for us.

Happy gardening!

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The August Garden

August 2nd, 2010

Primulas cheer you on a dull day

August means the primulas are flowering – and primulas grown by the front door mean good luck to all inside.  Naughty, malicious fairies won’t go past a bed of primulas – they stay and play amongst them instead.  That is the fairy lore, and whether you believe it or not you cannot argue that the blaze of colour that the primulas add to a garden on a dreary winter’s day will cheer anyone up.

rosemary in full flower

My Rosemary bush is flowering right now as well, and Rosemary is the herb of friendship and remembrance.  The scent of rosemary really does stimulate most peoples’ memory, in folklore it is an emblem of remembrance.  A bush of rosemary by the back door means you have always got a very handy herb for seasoning your lamb.  I like to put a bunch of rosemary under the chicken when I pop it into the oven.  The subtle scent is wonderful and flavours the bird right through.

Protea

Another plant that is flowering in my garden now are the Proteas.  These perennial shrubs are suitable for most areas, but it is best to choose one suited to your very own.  They are one of the glories of autumn and winter, with great massive blooms that you would pay several dollars each for at the florist – but nothing at all if you grow your own. 

The jonquils are out now and the camellias are still covered in flowers.  The small violets are still smiling in amongst their leaves and the hellebores are looking very happy.  It is a busy time in the garden with much to see and enjoy

Happy gardening.

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Summer Skies

February 13th, 2010

GardenFeb2010 005

I decided last year that I have neither the time or the inclination to trot around holding the hands of those plants that look up at me and gasp, ‘Water, please!!!’ So, I have begun experimenting with more waterwise plants. As Australia continues to struggle with climate change, and I and other gardeners struggle with our water restrictions,  I am moving more to the Mediterranean plants along with our natives.  Mulching is now essential.  My exciting find this year has been the Cistus – the hardy rock roses, these come from the Mediterranean  and the Canary Islands.  They require very little water and their delicate crepey blooms flower for months.  They seem to manage over the winter with the frosts that my garden has, so have been a good choice. 

Rosemary loves summer skies

Rosemary loves summer skies

Clivias, of course, are a great  favourite and one of the most useful, easy-to-please plants, they don’t even mind dry shady spots.  So, good for them, must buy some more!!

Our old friend the Lavender – well, what can I say?  They just seem to thrive in the heat. But they do tend to get leggy and I find can sometimes mysteriously drop dead.  Always a sad thing,  maybe it is the frost.  But I will keep trying with them, just because I love them.  I think the Lavandula angustifolia, or English lavender is the toughest.  Maybe I should just stick to that one and give up on the other varieties.  I don’t know.  Maybe where I live it just gets too wet and frosty in the winter.

Pineapple sage

Pineapple sage

The spring flowering bulbs such as grape hyacinths, sparaxis, freesias etc. don’t even want any water over the summer because that is their dormant period – well, they make a perfect choice for the waterwise garden.   

The lawn will green again when the rain comes

The lawn will green again when the rain comes

Herbs too can be terrific as ground cover – rosemary, sage these do very well.  The hebe seems to stand absolutely anything too.  Experimenting can be fun.

Well, happy gardening!

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February Jobs

February 10th, 2010

 

GardenFeb2010 005There are many little tasks to keep us busy this month.  The Bearded Iris (Iris Germanica )  can be lifted and divided this month.  You need to lift the clump with a fork, and cut away the oldest parts.  The really fun bit is triming the leaves to an inverted V, approximately 6 centimetres at the outer leaves, very neat!  Replant your peices of rhizome on a slight ridge of soil leaving the tops exposed.

Keep tomatoes happy by eating their fruit

Keep tomatoes happy by eating their fruit

Another job for this month is to hoe around and under the lemon tree who could use a bit of feed this month, just to encourage it along. 

Semi-Hardwood cuttings of many plants can be taken this month too, on my list is of course my Fuchisias – all of whom very badly need to be cut back, and waste not want not!  It is how I got to have so many!  They are good for swapping with friends and other gardeners too.  To take semi-hardwood cuttings, cut off pieces of young but well-ripened (fairly hard) wood, about 20 centimetres long, preferably with a heel (this is the section that joins onto an older piece of wood).  Make sure that you dip the ends of the cuttings in hormone powder and trim the leaves.  Trimming the leaves helps the plant to save energy while it develops roots.  Thats why you cut back the leaves on the Iris too.  It gives the plant less to think about -less stress.  Yes, its true, plants feel stress too. 

Waddles & Hazel ready to help

Waddles & Hazel ready to help

But, why stop at fuchisias?  You can also take cuttings of azaleas, camellias, pelargoniums, lavenders, rosemary Cistus…. the list goes on.  Its fun and a very good way to increase your stock. 

Those naughty weeds are creeping back in..so they will need to be dealt with and the usual care, watering, feeding, eating of tomatoes  -all this must be kept up with.  Tomatoes might also enjoy a little more mulch and if some of the leaves are turning yellow it is best to pinch them off, it looks better and helps to let more light reach the fruits to ripen them.  So, much to be done, so little time.

Happy gardening!

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Lifting the Spirits with herbs

December 17th, 2009

Since the very earliest times, we have used herbs not just for food but for healing. Every great civilization of the past – Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, they all used plants to heal wounds, deaden pain, lift the spirits and balance the mind. Plants have been used for healing for thousands of years. Our grandmothers used them every day.

We can grow many herbs in our gardens or pots, not only for their usefulness but also for their beauty. Sage for example is perfect underplanting for roses. Don’t feel you need a special ‘herb garden’ to enjoy them; put them in the beds you already have for they are beautiful in their own right, and can add to any garden bed. But if you have the space and the sunshine then indulge yourself by creating a special herb garden.

Herbs can be grown in amongst other plants

Herbs can be grown in amongst other plants

I myself have only a small garden with space very limited so I decided to grow my healing plants in mixed beds. As my garden is also very shady this means I can use any spots that get enough sunshine to grow the herbs I really can’t get by without having. But whether you have a large garden, a small garden, a balcony or even only a window-sill, you have room to grow some herbs.
I use any space I can find. While many herbs like full sun, many others, such as chives, fennel, lemon balm, and parsley, are happy in part or dappled shade, while mint, comfrey and lungwort (Pulmonaria) will grow well in full shade.

Since I am trying to grow all my plants organically I can use them in my cooking without having any reservations about what sprays have been used on them. This means that I don’t use any weed killers and no insecticides. But with most herbs this is easy because most herbs are tough cookies. For most people who are concerned about the environment, as well as what they eat, it is the only way to garden anyway.

The essence of organic gardening is that you feed the soil with compost or well-rotted manure and allow the plants to draw their nutrients from these, instead of taking them directly from artificial fertilizers.

One of the best ways to keep herbs vigorous and growing well is by regular picking. So use your herbs in your cooking regularly, it is good for your plant keeping it bushy and producing lots of new growth and it is good for you as herbs not only add taste to your food but essential oils and minerals to your diet. Parsley for example is a tonic for the nervous system and good for digestion, stimulating the appetite and combating wind. It is also a diuretic, very useful for urinary infections as well as helping with such conditions as arthritis. So think of that as you sprinkle some over your next meal.

Sage makes a soothing tea

Sage makes a soothing tea

Rosemary has been a popular rememdy for centuries for improving concentration and memory – rosemary for remembrance – and since it works by stimulating the flow of blood to the head, that may well be true. It is certainly good for headaches. It can even be used as a mouthwash!
I just love the plants themselves. The fragrance in the early evenings, or while I work in amongst them. I often make myself a cup of lemon balm tea or sage tea just by snipping off a good handful and pouring the hot water over in my little tea pot. I let it infuse for about 5 minutes and then enjoy.
Happy gardening.

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