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Bulbs & Herbs: Variety and Versatility

Hi - and welcome gardeners and those who love getting their fingers dirty!

I love magic. You can create that magic in your garden with bulbs and herbs. Grab a bunch of herbs, tie it with a ribbon and give it to someone you love along with a thoughtful note or a big hug.

One of the 700 species of Allum used in cooking and as an insect repellent, a companion plant for citrus to reduce aphids and other sap sucking insects.

Late Autumn to early Winter is a good time to plant garlic bulbs. Garlic needs a sunny position, good drainage is essential, so consider planting garlic in raised mounds. The PH should be between 6 and 7. To prepare the soil and build it up, work in a complete fertilizer, well rotted manure, compost and blood and bone into the soil. Separate the cloves and plant single cloves 3cm deep and 10-15cm apart. Rows should be 40-60cm apart.

Use an extra dressing of blood and bone in August and October (1 handful to a square metre) to keep the garlic healthy and strong.

The main pest is thrips. They suck the sap out of the foliage reducing the size of the cloves. Spray with Neem.

Harvest the garlic in Summer when the leaves have almost but not completely died. Lift the plant from the soil with a garden fork. Then hang in a cool dry place to dry.

Natural Garlic Pest Remedy

Crush 3 large garlic cloves with 6 tablespoons of paraffin. Leave in a bowl for 48 hours. Grate a tablespoon of soap (I use Sunlight soap) into half a litre of hot water. Stir until it melts. Mix with the crushed garlic – cool and strain. Use two tablespoons of the garlic mix to three litres of water in a sprayer.

Scarborough Fair

Simon and Garfunkel had the right idea with four of the Top Herbs in their song – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Herbs can be grown either in pots or the garden. They bring different scents to a garden and are wonderful when picked fresh and add an extra taste to your cooking. Herbs are not demanding plants and will often thrive without much attention, but for good results liquid feed once a fortnight with a good liquid fertilizer like Charlie Carp or Triple Boost.

Parsley – Italian or curled. Versatile and practical and also good for your health. Easy to grow and can be used everyday in salads, soups and potatoes. Likes rich soil and some shade. A good companion for roses, tomatoes and asparagus

Sage – green, purple or variegated. Does not like wet feet so needs good drainage. A good companion plant for vegetables, repels the cabbage butterfly. The leaves can be used to clean your teeth and also in cooking with potatoes.

Rosemary – spreading, bushy or tall. Easy to grow. Does not like wet feet. Very aromatic and can be used fresh or dried. Repels mosquitoes. A good companion for Sage but don’t plant near potatoes. Great with a lamb roast.

Thyme – many varieties including garden lemon or pizza. Great taste, smell and produces lovely flowers. Grows well in rockeries or pots. Helps repel the cabbage worm.

BUT, my favourite has to be …

Mint - related to Basil, Rosemary and Thyme, there are over 600 varieties. Unlike most herbs, mint is as good dried as it is fresh. Mint enjoys a moist, fertile soil and will grow in either a shady or part shade position. It is extremely versatile with its sweet taste flavouring both sweet and savoury dishes. Mint is easy to grow, being vigorous and undemanding. It makes an ideal container herb, although if contemplating growing mint in the garden bed beware of its rampantly invasive habit.

Mint Sauce

Small bunch of fresh mint, washed and very finely chopped.

1 teaspoon sugar

Pinch of salt

3 tablespoons wine vinegar

3 tablespoons boiling water

Put the mint into a small bowl. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the vinegar. Pour the water over the mint, stir in the vinegar mixture and allow to cool. Do not keep for more than 2 hours.


In South East Queensland most gardeners prefer to grow a spring crop of potatoes (Planted Autumn to Winter).

Potatoes will grow in either light or heavy soils but good drainage is essential. Seed potatoes (tubers) are available in most nurseries now.

As a guide, a 1kg bag of seed potatoes should provide approximately 20 plants.

To prepare the bed dig to spade depth as they like dark damp conditions at planting time. Mark out the trench 15cm deep and 75cm apart. Use a complete fertilizer along the bottom of the trench about ¼ cup per metre and cover with about 5cm of soil from the sides. Place tubers 30-40cm apart, cover with soil and sprouts should emerge in about 3-4 weeks.

Gradually hill the plants to form a trench between the rows using Sugar Cane Mulch. Hilling supports the plants, protects new potatoes from exposure to light and protects them from being attacked by caterpillars and potato month.

Allow the tops to die off completely before digging up. Remove soil from potatoes, discard any damaged or blemished ones and store in a cool dry place, which must be dark to prevent the skin from going green.

The most popular variety is Sebago, but there are many varieties available in your local nursery.

Hope the information I have provided rewards you and your garden.

Happy Gardening, Jill


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