Spring is understandably the favourite time of year for many an avid gardener. As the cold, dreary winter months give way to warmth and sunshine, your garden is set to explode.
Provided you’ve kept up a solid garden maintenance routine through winter, your soil should be moist, fertile and ready for whatever you’d like to plant in the spring. And why not make that something not just a beautiful addition to your garden, but a tasty one as well?
But far from being just beautiful and tasty, herbs can also save you a lot of cash! There’s no need to buy overpriced rosemary or chillis from the supermarket when they’re available from your veggie patch for free.
So what do you need to know about planting herbs in the Australian spring? Let’s take a look.
Appropriate Spring Herbs by Region
Australia’s varied climate will mean that different varieties of herb will grow in different places. Understandably, a herb that grows happily in the damp heat of a Far North Queensland spring may not cope quite as well with the chill of a Southern Tasmanian September morning.
Here are your best herb options by region:
Tropical(North Queensland, North WA, Northern Territory): basil, chives, chilli, ginger, dill, oregano, parsley and mint.
Arid Inland (Central Australia): Provided your herbs are protected from the late spring heat and are well watered, the dry inland heat is excellent for growing almost any herb.
Sub-Tropical through to Cool Climate (The Rest of Australia): basil, chives, coriander, dill, oregano, parsley, sage, thyme and mint.
How to Plant Herbs
Whether planting from seeds or cuttings, getting your herb garden set up is a fairly simple operation. You first want to ensure that it has good drainage – this is particularly easy in pots, as you can simply drill holes in the bottom and fill the bottom quarter of the pot with gravel. If the soil is a little tired, use a slow release fertiliser to help it give the new herbs a kick along.
If you’re planting seeds, sow them just below the surface, and give them a good water once they’re planted. For cuttings, ensure that you choose stems that aren’t currently flowering, and are new rather than old growth. Cut the stem, then strip the bottom 2/3rds of it. Using a pencil, poke a hole in the soil deep enough that the cutting will stand up by itself, then push the soil in to support the stem. Give it a solid watering.
In a few weeks, both your seeds and cuttings will have started to generate a root system. It’s now time to make sure they give you a good harvest.
Spring Herb Maintenance
Herbs enjoy plenty of sunlight, regular watering and quick drainage. While most will grow quickly in heavily fertilised soil, this rapid growth can sometimes be at the expense of flavour, so avoid overdoing the fertiliser. In fact, with many herbs, you won’t need any at all. Sage and rosemary, for example, prefer less fertile, lime-rich soils.
If you’re experiencing a warm and dry spring, your herbs will benefit from the addition of water crystals to the soil. This will ensure the herbs don’t dry out and wilt.
Continually trim and harvest your herbs. This will promote more growth while keeping the plants compact. If you don’t feel as though you can eat all the fruits of your labour, hand your harvest off to your friends and family! Pruning as much as half the stem back will promote growth herbs like sage, mint and thyme.
Spring presents the perfect opportunity to plant and cultivate herbs. That sunny summer Sunday lamb roast will taste even better with a bit of home grown rosemary rubbed in. So what are you waiting for? Get planting!
If you’ve got any other spring garden queries, don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team at McKays.