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For the Best Gardeners in the Cardiff Area

   Jul 27

Your Questions About Gardening

Carol asks…

What is the best way to create a potted herb garden?

Creating a herb garden in pots is a practical way to grow your own healthy herbs. What is your advice on creating and maintaining a potted herb garden?
- Yates -

GardenersCardiff answers:

1. First of all, choose a suitable pot. I find that self-watering pots are best as I don’t have to worry as much with watering and I can’t over-water them.

2. Choose a really good potting mix so that it is free from bugs and disease. I would also put in a slow release fertiliser as that will help to make it grow better and more healthy. You can add more fertiliser every fortnight, especially while they are young.

3. Put in those water crystals as they help to retain the mositure even more which is important with all these water restrictions.

4. Grab a packet of seeds or some live herbs and put them in at the right depth and make sure you space them correctly. The seed packet/plant wrapper should give you this information. This is important cos you don’t want your herbs fighting for soil and water.

5. Position the pot in the right amount of sun, but make sure they don’t get scorched in the summer. Also, don’t let them dry out!

6. If you have pests like insects or animals like possums, put some netting/wire around it to keep them from being dug up. A good DIY solution is to use a few sticks and an orange bag from the grocery store, stretch out around it. An organic insecticide could be useful if you have insect problems. Give the herbs enough room so that bugs don’t thrive in hidden areas.

Laura asks…

I am looking to grow my own herbs. What is the difference between Organic, Heirloom and Heritage Seeds?

To my understanding Organic is “healthier” which is what I am leaning towards, but then when I look at the Heritage and Heirloom descriptions on google, they throw in the word organic here and there. It is confusing.

Your clarification is appreciated, thank you!

GardenersCardiff answers:

Organic refers only to the growing method. When talking about plants it is a growing method where there are no synthetic chemical fertilizers or pesticides. When talking about animals it means that the animals are eating plants that are produced in an organic matter, and in addition are not given antibiotics or hormones.
Chemical fertilizers generally designed to grow plants faster, and not necessarily for the plant to absorb the array of trace minerals that are found in a natural soil environment. The plants do not have the time to take in any more than the basic nutrients, and both their nutritional value and taste tend to suffer because of this. There are also risk factors involved with what the added chemicals/pesticides will do to a human when they ingest them. Since herbs tend to grow at an relatively fast rate (at least for a gardener) and the leaves tend not be bothered too much by pests – as they have their own natural defense systems – there is no reason that you shouldn’t grow them organically.
Heritage and Heirloom refer to the breed or variety of animal or plant. Heirloom refers to plant varieties which have remained unchanged over many many decades. As many plants have been bred or genetically engineered for maximized production, many of the old heirloom varieties have become very rare. These varieties benefit from many different individual genetic makeups, giving all sorts of different flavors, as well as resistance to different diseases or adverse conditions that other varieties might be affected by. Heirloom varieties include Purple Peruvian Potatoes, Brandywine Tomatoes, and Genovese Basil… The list goes on.
Heritage is the term used when referring to animals. The idea is the same. A good example would be with dairy cows: At this point in time Holsteins (not a heritage breed) have been bred to be bovine milk factories, they produce lots of watery milk and aren’t particularly hardy animals. On the other hand Tarentaise Cows (a heritage breed) are very hardy and produce rich milk. Different breeds of cow will produce slightly different proteins due to their varied DNA, giving different flavor to their meat/milk as well as making them ideal for all sorts of different conditions ranging from anything from specific weather or altitude, to disease resistance. Heritage breeds include Dutch belted Cows, Fainting Goats, and Araucana Chickens… The list goes on.
So that being said one can grow an heirloom variety or heritage breed without it being organic. It happens that many of the people who care a lot about their production methods will choose use organic growing methods in combination with use of heirloom cultivators/heritage breeds because they feel that this combination will give them the best end product. That is why you see the terms organic and heirloom (or heritage) side by side so often, even though neither are dependent on the other.

Daniel asks…

I am looking to grow my own herbs. What is the difference between Organic, Heritage and Heirloom Seeds?

To my understanding Organic is “healthier” which is what I am leaning towards, but then when I look at the Heritage and Heirloom descriptions on google, they throw in the word organic here and there. It is confusing.

Your clarification is appreciated, thank you!

GardenersCardiff answers:

Heirloom and heritage mean exactly the same thing as far as seeds are concerned. It would be nice if all the seed companies that offer OP (open pollinated) seed would get on the same page and use the same terminology in all the catalogues

This is Carolyn Male’s Definition (Ms Male is one of the top experts on heirloom tomatoes and has written several books on the topic)
1. Commercial Heirlooms: Open-pollinated varieties introduced before 1940, or tomato varieties more than 50 years in circulation.
2. Family Heirlooms: Seeds that have been passed down for several generations through a family.
3. Created Heirlooms: Crossing two known parents (either two heirlooms or an heirloom and a hybrid) and dehybridizing the resulting seeds for how ever many years/generations it takes to eliminate the undesirable characteristics and stabilize the desired characteristics, perhaps as many as 8 years or more.
4. Mystery Heirlooms: Varieties that are a product of natural cross-pollination of other heirloom varieties.

I have checked personally with Ms male about this as we have known each for many years other through some gardening forums and this question comes up perennially and she also says heritage and heirloom mean the same thing. Seeing as how all the seed companies use her definition of Heirloom I would say she is as good a source as one can get on this topic

Organic has absolutely nothing to do with this and as a matter of fact, most of the heirloom seeds sold are NOT certified organic. Seed savers Exchange and Fedco both offer certified organic heirloom seed but neither offers only organic heirloom seed, they also have conventionally grown heirloom seed. The heirloom seed offered by Burpee, Parks, etc., are not certified organic at all and in some cases have fungicide treatments that would make the land they are planted upon uncertifiable for 3 years or would decertify organic land.

Hybrid seed can be certified organic. I have bough pounds of such seed in my life. Hybrid cannot be heirloom as others here have explained

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