【Gardening】 Herbs: Getting Started for Beginners

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  Notice: The original article is from here: http://www.deardeer.name/archives/638, and it must be noted that the elements required of plants are based on the local weather environment.

  I’ve written annual gardening retrospect from 2010, it’s in Catalog “Note” and Tag “Gardening” (on my site and in Chinese Language.).

  In the beginning I didn’t pay my attention on gardening but just helped my family to care them, and I never thought that one day I would gradually enjoy in it. Now I tell myself not to buy new plants and continue focus on my plants which I already have, and I would like to use my experience to help beginners of gardening.

  This article will have four paragraphs to introduce how to start: “Choice”, “Medium”, “Tools”, and “The others”.

  1. Make A Choice – What do you want? Do you have any target?

  Maybe there are lots of people are like me that start gardening on a whim, perhaps someone suddenly noticed a cute potted plants, or bought a potted plant to decorate room and had to start taking care of them. Whatever, it’s a trivial opportunity which makes you gradually like it.

  If someone is fascinated by the herb plant due to cooking, they must know to care herbs isn’t an easy work, maybe to buy to buy ready-made materials is far easier than to plant them.

  Gardening can make you feel relax, and sometimes will bring you a sense of challenge and accomplishment, but if you want to just lay down after getting off work, or get up early to care your plants under sunshine, you should consider if you are really suitable for caring plants, or maybe you can choose plants which are easier to care, such as indoor potted plants. (Of course, I think you can take easy to try it at first!)

All kinds of soil are also sold in flower market.

  1. Substrate – Soil, Gravel, and so on.

  Each plant adapts to different medium, some requires loose, some requires strict, and all they adapted is based on their native environment.

  After choosing the plant what you want to plant, you can search what kind of medium the plant adapts to?

Salvia apiana

  For example, the Orchidaceae plants adapt to Tree Fern bark (Fern Chips) or dried sphagnum moss, because they need ventilation so you should notice soil aeration while planting. I even tied my Dendrobium nobile on iron grating, and they still grow and blossom well.

  And some plants such as Succulent plants adapt the medium that does not easily store water so that properly mix sand or vermiculite is better. These kinds of medium won’t store water and avoid root rot.

  Also there are some plants adapt clay soil which can store water, or maybe you want to plant Aquatic plant so that you need the soil which can deposit in the water, such as loam (In Taiwan, we call it farmland soil.).

  Usually, we bought 3-inches mini potted plants from flower market is young plants that have just succeeded nursed, and they used potting soil to plant it. After buying it, you can wait for 3 to 7 days until your potted plant adapts environment and consider changing a bigger flowerpot even grow in land. At that time, you can start to mix soil what you need and start to enjoy gardening.

  –It seems that to mix ideal substrate is difficult… yes, it is! So when I was a beginner, I just used potting soil to grow everything (and killed something), and most of them was still growing well, but after some days (maybe a month or longer), I found some flying insects appeared around my plants, though they won’t hurt my plants, sometimes annoyed me.

  However, potting soil has an obvious defect – due to its soft feature, you will notice that the potting soil level sagged and the density of soil becomes higher after you water your potted plants several times. And maybe you will start to add more potting soil to heighten your soil level, then your potted plants will become heavier and heavier, and root of plants will withstand more pressure until it can’t sustain. (Of course, it depends on your plant species and if it is healthy.)

  Besides, the potting soil is easy to harden and cracked if you don’t keep it wet, so that maybe next time when you want to plant something, you have to reprocess it. (And maybe you will feel trouble about it.)

  According to this, if you want to move your potted plants and change a bigger flowerpot, it’s better to mix other soil than just use potting soil.

  In general, it doesn’t limit what kind of soil you will use, because we just want to get more soil and mix with potting soil which contains valuable nutrients.

  But only one you should notice and you have to do is that to solarize new soil 3-5 days you just got is necessary, so that the pest insects inside will flee, and also remove the mold.

  My personal experience is: I live near the rezoning area. The rezoning area has been under construction for many years, so there is a lot of soil which has fewer nutrients from the construction site that can be used.

  But please remember, if you want to take the soil belong others land, you must tell the owner.

  Or maybe you live in a downtown area and cannot get any soil, you can find a bigger flower market to buy your ideal soil. For example, I used to going this flower market, it’s pretty good and they have cute cats…… (Oops, it’s my true thoughts?)

  And I used to buying herbs here because most of the stores cannot distinguish the detailed types of herbs that I can’t communicate with them, so to find a store which is more professional is necessary for me.

  Maybe you can search on net and find your favourite flower store.

  1. Tools

  (1) Scissors and flower shears

  You may confuse that why I list both scissors and flower shears?

  I started my gardening life from 2010 and I didn’t buy any flower shear until 2017. To use office scissors is convenient if you plant a small plant or cut leaves, but if you grow such as Thyme or Lemon Verbena and they lignified, it’s hard to prune it by using scissors.

  My Yin Chen Hao (Artemisia capillaris) is growing stronger and stronger, and its diameter of stem is over 1 centimeter and even can be used as a stick, I can’t just use my scissor to prune it so I bought a flower shear.

  When I went to buy my flower shear, I saw lots of tools of gardening and was excited, I hope someday I can have a big garden rather than plant a few plants on my balcony.

  Besides, to maintain your tools is also a part of gardening. To store plastic tools where won’t be exposed under the sunshine can prolong using time and avoid injuries due to broken plastic.

  (2) Watering Can

  You can choose this tool if you need. To water your garden or potted plants evenly is better because I think you don’t want to see the soil splashing everywhere, and it’s easy to use liquid fertilizer if you have a watering can. But it’s up to you!

  (3) Fertilizer

  Fertilizers are roughly divided into liquid fertilizers and solid fertilizers, which can be used in appropriate amounts with reference to the fertilizer packaging instructions.

  It should be noted that some plants don’t adapt to solid fertilizers which will make them weak, such as Crossostephium chinense. I’ve even use solid fertilizers on Crossostephium chinense, and almost killed it. So to know your plants adapt to which fertilizers is important, if you don’t have any idea, just watering and pruning your plants is enough. (Over-fertilization is easy to cause plant weak even died.)

  I searched the website of Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan while I wrote this article and remembered that we should pay attention to the weather condition and avoid to fertilizing before or after rain, it will cause fertilizer to be washed away by rain.

  According to my personal experience, rainwater is much more better than fertilizing especially in rain season. I just pruned my plants during this time.

  (4) Flower pots and flower pot chassis

  Generally, the material of potted plants we bought from flower market is soft plastic, and root of plants is like noodles coiled at the bottom. At that time, we can prepare to buy a bigger flower pot.

  If you want to place your potted plants outdoor, you can choose more expensive and thick material, it can be used for a longer time. The thinner material is cheaper but also is flimsy; It’s easy to hurt your hand due to the broken chassis of the flowerpot. (By the way, the balcony with light-pervious roofing is also belonging to outdoor.)

  If you just want to plant your potted plants indoor, to choose your favourite and beautiful material is more important, but if the potted plants is heavy, you still have to pay attention when you move your potted plants –you definitely don’t want to see the soil on the ground indoor……

  1. Others

  Regarding the general characters of plants, here are some points for reference only:

  (1) Sunlight – Sunshine Duration

  We often read the introduction of plants which adapt “whole day sunshine” or “half day sunshine”, or you may read the noun “heliophilous plants/ heliophytes” or “sciophyte”, but how to determine the placement of the plants?

  Whole day sunshine – Just place heliophilous plants outdoor.

  Half day sunshine – Under light-pervious roofing or eaves, by the windows indoor, or even under the tree (or taller plants) and obscured by the crown (or leaves).

  It’s easy to care sciophyte indoor, but if you place heliophilous plants indoor, branches of plants will grow spindly that because plants rush to find the light source, so it will grow so quickly, it’s unhealthy.

  When I was a beginner, and I planted my potted plants on my balcony with eaves, but I’m sure that plants on the edge of the balcony can be exposed under sunshine all day long, BUT – someone told me, it still belong to “Half day sunshine”.

  I remembered that I wasn’t convinced at that time, but about a month later, I trusted it.

  But in other words, plants are like humans, although there’s a general classification, as long as plants adapt well, it does not matter.

Lophophora williamsii ‘Caespitosa’ grow spindly.

  (2) Water

  The water required by each plant is also different. According to the weather environment, the watering frequency and amount of water must be adjusted in a timely manner. After you planting your plants for a period of time, it will be easy to do it.

  Besides, you can watering your plants until the water leaks from the bottom of the flowerpot, but remember to pour the water away from the the pot chassis to avoid mosquitoes breeding and the roots of the plant will rot because the soil is too moist and badly ventilated.

  And maybe you want to try “Mix Planting”.

  It must be noted that Mix Planting isn’t suitable for similar variety, for example, Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens) and Spearmint (Mentha spicata). I’ve ever planted them together and new varieties have been produced, but the leaves are curled and small, and soon it died. And few days later, my Apple mint was engulfed by green mint and disappeared in my flowerpot.

  But to plant different varieties of plants can help balance water absorption. I’ve ever planted Basil (Ocimum bullatum Lam.) and Blue Boy Rosemary together; Basil doesn’t adapt to drought and needs more water, and Rosemary likes dry and cool environment and needs to drain quickly, so if you live in tropical or subtropical climate likes me, you must use your ingenuity to create a relatively comfortable environment for rosemary.

  I also planted Yin Chen Hao and Italian Oregano together, so that Yin Chen Hao can provide Italian Marjoram shade places to spend the hot summer days.

Italian Oregano under the Yin Chen Hao.

  There is also some disadvantages in Mix Planting – You must pay attention to whether the plants are too dense (plants must need ventilation), otherwise they will be easily eroded by pest insects and diseases.

  – That’s all I want to share for beginner, have a nice gardening life!

  This article is completely described by personal experience, I try to translate myself and share it. If there are something wrong must be corrected, welcome to leave your message.

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