Drying and storing herbs

We’re often asked for tips on how to harvest, dry and store herbs – so here goes! Our top tips on drying and storing herbs….

The woodier herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, Bay and Oregano are often the easiest to dry because they don’t have high moisture content. Sure, air-drying can be a slow process but we love it because it doesn’t cost you anything and the herbs retain lots of their essential oils and flavour. Plus how pretty do they look all hanging in a row.

The best time to harvest your herbs is in the morning after the dew had dried and before they flower, that’s when their flavour is most intense. If you’re picking them for drying you don’t want any moisture on the leaves or they’ll rot – and be sure to shake off any dirt or insects that are trying to take a ride.

Harvesting your herbs helps to keep plants looking nice and bushy – just don’t cut the whole plant unless it’s time to replant it. About a 1/3 of the branch at a time is a good
rule of thumb.

I always remove the lower inch or so of leaves (you can save them for drying too) and then just bundle the cut herbs loosely together in a bunch – don’t jam too many sprigs in there – you want some air circulation. Then hang the bunch to dry in a warm, airy spot away from direct sunlight. Depending on the herb they’ll be dry in about ……xx

Or if you are a little impatient you could place the leaves and stems in the oven for 15 minutes at 150 degrees celcius. The leaves can then be stripped from the stems and kept in airtight containers. I like to store the leaves whole then just crush them before use to retain more flavour.

Some herbs like Basil, Chives, Mint and Tarragon can be successfully stored in airtight plastic bags in the freezer. 

Coriander is one of those wonderful herbs that you can use from root to tip. But because it’s a fragile herb it’s tricky to store well. So if you can, have it growing close
to the kitchen so you can pick and eat it fresh from the pot or patch.

 You can keep your coriander fresh for longer by treating it like a bunch of flowers. Simply cut the stems and pop it in a glass of water. Just don’t submerge any of the
leaves, re-cut the stems frequently and change the water every day or so. You can even put the jar in the fridge to keep it for longer. I’ve even stored chopped up
coriander in ice trays.

So there you have it – drying, harvesting and storing herbs Gardenettes style.

How to grow plants in pots SUCCESSFULLY!

If you love growing a potted garden, then you’ll need some of these tops tips for success when growing in pots. Let Chloe show you how to grow plants in pots SUCCESSFULLY!

1. Choose the right size pot for your plant. Not too big and not too small. A pot that is too big is a bit of a waste of space and the proportions look all wrong. While a pot that is too small can’t stunt the growth of your plant. As a guide choose a pot that is 2-3 times the size of the original pot of the plant.

2. Choose the right type of pot; self watering pots are perfect for herbs and vegetables or annual flowers. While lightweight pots are great if you need to move pots around a lot.

3. Prevent potting mix from becoming hydrophobic (that’s repelling water) by using a wetting product like eco-hydrate https://ecoorganicgarden.com.au/produ…

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Our fav indoor hanging plants

Nothing creates the feeling of an indoor jungle quite like house plants with tarzan like vines cascading down from above. So when you’re decorating your house with greenery, don’t just introduce plants at ground level, spice things up a bit and create interest from top to bottom.

Our favourite indoor hanging, trailing and cascading plants:

– Devil’s Ivy
– Chain of Hearts
– String of Pearls
– Boston Fern

All pots used in this video can be found in the Northcote Pottery Range at https://www.northcotepottery.com/

Fruit Tree Pruning Basics

Don’t be daunted by how to prune fruit trees – I’ve got a couple of simple guidelines that will help make the process easier.

Firstly start by removing the 3 D’s – that’s any dead, diseased or damaged branches. Then look for any crossing or those growing downwards.

As you go consider the shape – you can prune fruit trees to many shapes – but the main goal is to open up the structure of the tree. This will increase airflow amongst the branches which can reduce disease outbreaks. And pruning will also allow more light into the centre of the tree which will help with fruit ripping.

Let’s start with pome trees – that’s your apples, pears and quince – these trees fruit on obvious fruiting spurs – so we don’t want to prune all of these off! However still need to shape the tree – so look for last seasons growth – that’s the young thinner branches and cut them back to 5 or 6 nods to get the shape you want.

Peaches and nectarines fruit on wood “last seasons growth”. So this pinkish/reddish branch which grew last spring & summer, will produce this coming summers crop. But they need to be cut back by about half so the tree can support all this fruit! Cut just after one of these nodes – ideally an outward facing one – and cut at an angle.

If you had any fungal or pest problems last season then it’s a good idea to do a clean up spray of eco-fungicide mixed with eco-oil. And to help prevent leaf furl on peaches and nectarines, spray them mid winter with a copper based spray and then again right before the leaves emerge in late winter/spring.

If I’ve not talked about a fruit tree that you have or you need more help with pruning then check out if your local nursery has any classes OR carry around a handy book like “The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia” by Louis Glowinski

So know that you know how to prune fruit trees – well the basic tips anyway….go get snipping!

How to use garden screens

The right screen in the right place can be the difference between an eyesore and a decorative feature in the garden.

I love the look of rusted metal in a garden – I think it adds style and character to outdoor living areas. These outdoor garden screens from Northcote pottery are made from weathering steel so they have a lovely rusted appearance and they come in different patterns and sizes to create privacy, block unsightly views and decorate every corner of the garden.

This bare old fence is screaming out for a makeover, so in go these Moroccan style Geometric screens and what a difference. I’ve broken up the screens with some simple climbing frames so that I can get some greenery growing up here. It’s looking a bit bare at the moment, but I’m planting a beautiful deciduous climber called Boston Ivy. It will create a lovely wall of green in the spring and summer and in autumn it turns beautiful shades of red. So the combination of the rusted screens and colourful foliage will be just stunning.

Now it’s time to update the old gate and give it a new lease on life. Goodbye boring gate palings, hello stylish new entrance. The biggest screens in this range are 1800 x 900mm, which is the standard size of a lot of garden gates – so I just removed the old palings and kept the frame intact, then drilled the screen to the frame and wha la – there’s just no comparison.

I also like to use rusted screens as works of art in the garden and the smaller screens in Northcote Pottery’s collection are just perfect for creating a focal point, dressing up a tired old fence or spicing up a dull wall.

Create a succulent ball

I love a bit of garden art so I’m going to create a living succulent ball that can be a hanging feature in your garden.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 good sized hanging baskets
A stylish selection of succulents
Quality potting mix
A piece of cardboard
Cable ties
A few pieces of floristy wire

I’m using matching Stratford Hanging Baskets from Northcote Pottery’s Clyde Garden Collection. The detail on them is bird cage like, which is wonderfully decorative and there’s plenty of room for planting succulents.

Start by filling both of the baskets with potting mix. Now the tricky bit is joining the two baskets to form a sphere – so here’s a neat trick. Simply place a piece of cardboard over the top of one of the baskets, put the two halves together and gently slide the cardboard out. Then firmly secure the baskets with cable ties.

Now comes the fun part the planting. I’ve chosen a selection of Echeveria’s from InStyle succulents. I’m using different colors and forms for extra impact. So I’ve got some darker forms like ‘Painted Lady’ which has burgundy coming through the foliage and ‘Black Knight’ which has burgundy or almost black tips and then some silver forms for real contrast.

These plants have been grown as plugs so they’ve only got a small root system which makes them perfect for this style of planting. Now all you need to do is cut little holes into your hanging basket liner and pop them in. If they are a little insecure just get your hands on some floristry wire and you can pin them in.

If you’re finding it tricky to get underneath then try resting the basket on a pot to do the lower half and remember to secure any loose succulents with floristry wire. Now all you need to do is reattach some of the wires from the hanging basket were removed earlier and it’s ready to display in the garden. The perfect garden disco ball!