When I hit my 30s, I became overwhelmed by the urge to nurture, cherish and protect something as it grew and matured.
It wasn’t a new human life I wanted to create (no, thanks), but a desire to surround myself with greenery and grow my own vegetables and herbs.
I live in an inner-city rental in Hobart with a tiny, mostly paved backyard. Not only do I lack the space for regular garden beds, but as a renter I want to be able to take my hard work with me the next time I move.
Turns out, I’m not the first journalist to get the propagating bug.
About 10 years ago Indira Naidoo took a break from her news career with SBS and ABC and began growing her own food on the balcony of her Potts Point apartment in Sydney.
Her work now involves helping people start their own food gardens using whatever space they have — windowsills, rooftops, courtyards — and wherever.
Her main tip to becoming a potted-plant farmer is to “be brave”. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a green thumb (yet).
“Even the most experienced gardener will kill things and things will die.”
Knowing that death is a part of all life, here is how you can bring some edible plants to life, with tips from Indira, horticulturalists from the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, and my own experience of failure and success.
Basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, coriander, rosemary, dill and mint are all possible to grow in small spaces. But if you’re not sure which herbs to pick, Indira’s advice is to start with something you like to use in cooking.
My go-to is sweet basil. Because Tassie can be a bit cold for basil, I tend to keep my pots in the sunniest spot and make sure I water them daily in summer. Sweet basil can be grown in small pots in a windowsill.
Dill, on the other hand, wilts very quickly in direct sun in a pot, so it should be given a shadier spot. And make sure it doesn’t dry out for long.