Saturday, October 26, 2013

Should have listened to Mamma!

Often when I am gardening I remember things that I have read here and there or heard here and there, but there is one voice that I remember from my childhood gardening adventures, which is my Moms.

Sis and Me in the late 1970's
My mom was, and is, a spectacular gardener. My childhood home was up in Johannesburg and we lived on 1/2 acre that my mother had lovingly created, tended, nurtured and established from scratch. Mom and Dad bought the property, built the house and turned it onto our home when they were young parents.

The garden was good enough, no in fact fantastic enough, for Garden & Home Magazine. It was filled with hiding places for us as children where we had a house in the weeping willow with a table and chairs inside made from tree stumps. There were many happy hours spent there in play.

Another of my favourite places in our garden was right down in the bottom corner behind a screening bush. You could go down a flight of old railway beam stairs with dolls and spend a long time playing where no-one could find you.

We had a small section at the back of the house that my mom grew a few fruit trees. When my sister and I left home to study my mom turned this area into a very productive and impressive vegetable garden.

Messy tower
I don't think I paid much attention to her actual gardening tips as a child, but when I became a wife and mom and my heart turned to all things homemaking, I remembered a lot of her lessons.

I would like to think that while my children work with me in the garden, willingly and unwillingly at times, that even if they are not interested now, they will be able to one day draw on their memories of working by my side. My elder daughter, whose thinking is turning to her own home sooner than the rest, is my most eager helper and is the one who asks questions like: "Why did those tomatoes die?" and "Why are we mulching?" etc.

Back in 2010 Superman and Son made me a herb tower in their own design. It has gone through the seasons and because it is right outside my kitchen door it has summer cooking herbs planted in it normally. In winter it is in full shade for almost the whole day, but oregano and marjoram struggle on through the lack of sun.

All tidy!

At the end of last winter I planted some mint in there. This is when I remembered Mom's advice of never planting mint in the ground - always in a pot, under a tap. But I didn't heed her advice in my haste and the mint has gradually spread out and by the beginning of spring it had taken over the whole tower. Mint is one of those herbs that give prolifically and so much more that you can ever use. So it really needs only a smallish pot to grow in for all year round use.

Today we pulled out everything expect the Oregano and Marjoram and started the herb tower over again. Old soil was removed, new soil, compost and a little cocopeat added. I planted in some teeny tiny coriander and basil seedlings I started two weeks ago, as well as some dill and chive seeds. I stuck queen squash seedling in one corner which will spread across the paving through summer.

Caring for your mint is really simple. It will get root bound in the pot and you can just tip the whole plant out when it looks all woody, chop the mass in half with a spade, add new soil and plop the half back into the pot. I also give it a good hair cut when it is woody and within a week or two you will get new tender green shoots for cooking, salads, mint teas and summer cool drinks.

Recently regenerated mint
And the other half? Well why not pot it up too and give it to a friend when it has a new set of leaves? Sharing is caring after all :)

1 comment:

Winkel's Crazy Ideas said...

Had to smile. In my last house mint had taken over most of the garden when we moved in. In the garden l have now, it has become enormous. I will follow your tip and pot it come summer. Thanks for sharing. Pam