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Educational Community Herb Garden Advice and help sought

#1 User is offline   Calvinlim 

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 12:22 PM

Dear all,

I am planning to start a community herb garden in my condominium estate and have obtained the approval from the MCST to do so. This herb garden will be maintained by the landscape contractor in the estate.

The objectives of this herb garden is to provide an interesting living space for the residents as well as educate them on the types of herbs we can grow and use in Singapore.

The proposed herb garden will be in an area which includes a large planter box (approximately 20 (length) x 1.5-2 (breadth) x 1 (height) metres )that is sheltered from the rain (gets partial sunlight streaming in from the sides), 2 pieces of lawn space of about (20 (length) x 1.5 (breadth) metres)that is partially sheltered from the rain and receives from partial to full sunlight in the day.

The plan is to full the planter boxes with rosemary plants (both the upright kind and the trailing kind), lavender, oregano and thyme. The rationale for this is that these plants do not like wet feet and will benefit from the sheltered location. As there will be loads of space, I am looking for suggestions as to what other types of plants I can put in this area.

For the lawn space outside the planter box, I hope to plant some interesting herb plants, such as different types of mint (peppermint, spear mint, common mint, pineapple mint and what others you can suggest), and other herbs (indian borage, basils, lemon verbana, parsley, etc). I also hope to grow some interesting local culinary herbs (curry leaves, laksa leaves, lemon grass, lime, pandan leaves, allspice plant and maybe chili padi).

I am hoping to seek your advice/opinion on the suitability of these plants in terms of compatibility with each other and also whether any of these are too difficult to maintain. My landscape contract is a regular one that needs to be pushed sometimes to get things done. The garden will fail if I opt for more complicated plants that their regular workers do not know how to handle.

What do you guys think?
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#2 User is offline   digitalgate 

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 07:49 PM

you have PM
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#3 User is offline   Calvinlim 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 03:20 PM

I need help with a list of grow-able herbs and spices suitable for the proposed herb garden so that I can ask the landscape contractor to source.

For example, I know there are many types of mint, peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, what others are there?

I also learnt from digital gate that there are many types of basil. I only know of thai basil, sweet basil and apparently there is lemon basil and cinnamon basil.

Others I will be asking him to source are shiso leaves, camomile plant (maybe feverfew as well), bay leaves... I need some ideas...
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#4 User is offline   Calvinlim 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 04:13 PM

Just to share... This is the area I will be converting into a herb garden...

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-HaTK1SV9OPs/T3qv7efNEgI/AAAAAAAAAAk/rRPxYgYy-eM/s640/IMG_1389.JPG

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-GNcceEke0rc/T3qv7xCkS9I/AAAAAAAAAA0/Mu45JrJnbnE/s800/IMG_1391.JPG

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-ebDKIMVb-_E/T3qv7ZTU9vI/AAAAAAAAAAo/6Rc4yjM5Lh4/s800/IMG_1392.JPG

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-72SAInSPyjE/T3qv-eJB5oI/AAAAAAAAAA8/QgLSVWw6-kE/s800/IMG_1393.JPG




View PostCalvinlim, on 03 April 2012 - 03:20 PM, said:

I need help with a list of grow-able herbs and spices suitable for the proposed herb garden so that I can ask the landscape contractor to source.

For example, I know there are many types of mint, peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, what others are there?

I also learnt from digital gate that there are many types of basil. I only know of thai basil, sweet basil and apparently there is lemon basil and cinnamon basil.

Others I will be asking him to source are shiso leaves, camomile plant (maybe feverfew as well), bay leaves... I need some ideas...

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#5 User is offline   Calvinlim 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 04:19 PM

Some existing plants

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-N6Ci1GQz2uc/T3qyRZqlp0I/AAAAAAAAABI/VUSYQQuTnLw/s800/IMG_1394.JPG

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-tLJJfEiZcY4/T3qyRauUuWI/AAAAAAAAABM/i0sppnHFTZ4/s800/IMG_1395.JPG

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-EFXU5J6PZiU/T3qyTP2IE_I/AAAAAAAAABY/jmNR9rIUmb8/s800/IMG_1396.JPG
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#6 User is offline   skyfiery 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 05:12 PM

View PostCalvinlim, on 03 April 2012 - 03:20 PM, said:

I need help with a list of grow-able herbs and spices suitable for the proposed herb garden so that I can ask the landscape contractor to source.

For example, I know there are many types of mint, peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, what others are there?

I also learnt from digital gate that there are many types of basil. I only know of thai basil, sweet basil and apparently there is lemon basil and cinnamon basil.

Others I will be asking him to source are shiso leaves, camomile plant (maybe feverfew as well), bay leaves... I need some ideas...


There's a loose estimate of about a few hundred types of mints. I'm not sure about basils, but there are MANY...at least over 20 to 30.

Sky
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#7 User is offline   Calvinlim 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 05:57 PM

Okay. I gave my landscape contractor a list of about 25 plants to source. Lets see what he comes back with.

View Postskyfiery, on 03 April 2012 - 05:12 PM, said:

There's a loose estimate of about a few hundred types of mints. I'm not sure about basils, but there are MANY...at least over 20 to 30.

Sky

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#8 User is offline   digitalgate 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:17 PM

Basil can be grown in the sunny area. The inner part is not suitable for Rosemary. It would be good for you raise the flower bed above the ground around 10cm.
Also that area look like it can get water logged easily, so your soil has to be well drained with sand , cocopeat, compost. Having good soil will ensure your plant can grow well. You need to allocate that into your budget. If they dont mix the soil for you then you have the hard work of mixing the soil. But as they says. Build it ,they will come.

This post has been edited by digitalgate: 04 April 2012 - 06:53 AM

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#9 User is offline   derelor 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 10:10 PM

Hi,

just to share an opinion. Is the herb garden open to the residents? If yes, how will it be opened to them. Who is going to maintain the area? Are they going to re-do the soil? The difficulty of culture? I think these are questions that are more important than the choice of plants. Cos if such questions are not answered, they will haunt you in the future. Just to exaggerate a little, some residents will ask if they can have the basil, rosemary, chilli padi, pandan for their daily cooking. Is it just pluck as many as they like? If the chilli plant runs out of chilli, is the contractor going to replace with a new plant or wait for the next round of harvest? If the pandan has only 4 leaves left, buy a new one? Is the soil free of remnant pesticide/"poisonous" elements?

What I am trying to say in all is that you need to prepare for all these questions and situations, as the herbs and space used belongs to the residents, so it may be difficult to please people, even though your intention is good. Hope I didn't over-exaggerate to scare you off.

cheers,
Ben
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#10 User is offline   exotic n easy 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 10:38 PM

View PostCalvinlim, on 03 April 2012 - 04:19 PM, said:

Some existing plants

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-N6Ci1GQz2uc/T3qyRZqlp0I/AAAAAAAAABI/VUSYQQuTnLw/s800/IMG_1394.JPG

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-tLJJfEiZcY4/T3qyRauUuWI/AAAAAAAAABM/i0sppnHFTZ4/s800/IMG_1395.JPG

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-EFXU5J6PZiU/T3qyTP2IE_I/AAAAAAAAABY/jmNR9rIUmb8/s800/IMG_1396.JPG

Since your area is largely shaded (except for few areas of where light shines at for a while), I would say the site suits native spices better...

Here are my suggestions:
- replace the rosemary with Kaempferia galangal(Malays use it in dishes) or Chlorophytum bichetii(Chinese medicine mai dong), which could be used as groundcover plant in the planter box...clumps of taller herbs such as Tradescantia spathacea(locals use the leaves and floral bracts in a cooling drink, boil it with pandan) can be spotted at random for interest by differing the heights..
-The second picture in the corner that is shaded, a tall feature plant, maybe Stachytarpheta indica (a Malay herb) or Alpinia zerumbet "Variegata"(A brazilian herbal), even a palm such as Areca catechu(nuts are chewed with piper leaves by Peranakans)
-pandan or Boesenbergia rotunda(leaves and roots used as culinary spice in Malay cuisine) can be used to surround the pillars, so that they will help bring down the scale of the massive pillars..
-The rest of the area could be broken up to different beds, seperated by bricks to define their edges, with each bed a different herb. A gap could even be left between beds to leave space for maintenance access. Suitable plants for these are:

1)Hydrocotyle sibthorpoides( Indian Ayurvedic herbal, forms a lovely low bed that looks like mossy ground from a distance, can take semi-shade well)
2) Alternanthera sessilis(The dried leaves are steeped in boiling water into a cooling drink, plant in areas with at least 3 hours of direct sunlight per day)
3)Phyla nodiflora (poultice applied to gangrene or sores to speed up healing in Malaysia, plant in areas with at least 3 hours of direct sunlight per day)
4)Talinum triangulare "Variegata"/ T. paniculatum (a hardy wild vegetable with showy flowerheads, plant in areas with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day)
5) Zingiber officinale (the ginger used in cooking, plant in areas with at least 3 hours of direct sunlight per day)
6) Eryngium foetidum (sawtooth coriander, use the leaves as you do with coriander, plant in the area with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day)
7) Aloe vera (this is famous...needn't say much..plant in areas with at least 5 hours of direct sunlight per day)
8) Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort, an European herb also used in TCM for flatulence, plant in areas with at least 5 hours of direct sunlight per day)

This post has been edited by exotic n easy: 03 April 2012 - 10:42 PM

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#11 User is offline   Calvinlim 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 11:06 PM

Hi Ben,

This herb garden will be maintained by the MCST landscape contractor. I will work with them to ensure that they are mindful of the requirements of the plants. So far, I have gotten the contractor to update the soil in the planter box into something more free draining and suitable for herbs like rosemary and lavender (maybe about 20-30 rosemary trees). The outside area around the planter box will be planted with mint and various basils.

Basically this herb garden will be secret until the plants get established, probably after 2-3 months of planting. Only then we will announce it to the residents for their enjoyment, maybe with some rules on harvesting. I do feel that with plants like mint and even rosemary, they can regenerate at quite an amazing rate if established. If we find that the residents over harvest or waste the plants, then we may have to disallow harvesting. I am hoping that the community will self police in a way.

We plan to put up a notice board for the herb garden, to warn residents when we apply pesticides, etc.

So far, the estate has about 400 households, with a mix of 40% locals and 60% caucasian.


View Postderelor, on 03 April 2012 - 10:10 PM, said:

Hi,

just to share an opinion. Is the herb garden open to the residents? If yes, how will it be opened to them. Who is going to maintain the area? Are they going to re-do the soil? The difficulty of culture? I think these are questions that are more important than the choice of plants. Cos if such questions are not answered, they will haunt you in the future. Just to exaggerate a little, some residents will ask if they can have the basil, rosemary, chilli padi, pandan for their daily cooking. Is it just pluck as many as they like? If the chilli plant runs out of chilli, is the contractor going to replace with a new plant or wait for the next round of harvest? If the pandan has only 4 leaves left, buy a new one? Is the soil free of remnant pesticide/"poisonous" elements?

What I am trying to say in all is that you need to prepare for all these questions and situations, as the herbs and space used belongs to the residents, so it may be difficult to please people, even though your intention is good. Hope I didn't over-exaggerate to scare you off.

cheers,
Ben

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#12 User is offline   Calvinlim 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 11:08 PM

Hi Exotic,

Thank you for your suggestions. I am going to get my landscape contractor to look into these plants!

View Postexotic n easy, on 03 April 2012 - 10:38 PM, said:

Since your area is largely shaded (except for few areas of where light shines at for a while), I would say the site suits native spices better...

Here are my suggestions:
- replace the rosemary with Kaempferia galangal(Malays use it in dishes) or Chlorophytum bichetii(Chinese medicine mai dong), which could be used as groundcover plant in the planter box...clumps of taller herbs such as Tradescantia spathacea(locals use the leaves and floral bracts in a cooling drink, boil it with pandan) can be spotted at random for interest by differing the heights..
-The second picture in the corner that is shaded, a tall feature plant, maybe Stachytarpheta indica (a Malay herb) or Alpinia zerumbet "Variegata"(A brazilian herbal), even a palm such as Areca catechu(nuts are chewed with piper leaves by Peranakans)
-pandan or Boesenbergia rotunda(leaves and roots used as culinary spice in Malay cuisine) can be used to surround the pillars, so that they will help bring down the scale of the massive pillars..
-The rest of the area could be broken up to different beds, seperated by bricks to define their edges, with each bed a different herb. A gap could even be left between beds to leave space for maintenance access. Suitable plants for these are:

1)Hydrocotyle sibthorpoides( Indian Ayurvedic herbal, forms a lovely low bed that looks like mossy ground from a distance, can take semi-shade well)
2) Alternanthera sessilis(The dried leaves are steeped in boiling water into a cooling drink, plant in areas with at least 3 hours of direct sunlight per day)
3)Phyla nodiflora (poultice applied to gangrene or sores to speed up healing in Malaysia, plant in areas with at least 3 hours of direct sunlight per day)
4)Talinum triangulare "Variegata"/ T. paniculatum (a hardy wild vegetable with showy flowerheads, plant in areas with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day)
5) Zingiber officinale (the ginger used in cooking, plant in areas with at least 3 hours of direct sunlight per day)
6) Eryngium foetidum (sawtooth coriander, use the leaves as you do with coriander, plant in the area with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day)
7) Aloe vera (this is famous...needn't say much..plant in areas with at least 5 hours of direct sunlight per day)
8) Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort, an European herb also used in TCM for flatulence, plant in areas with at least 5 hours of direct sunlight per day)

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#13 User is offline   Heian Edenwood 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 11:16 PM

Just some very general tips on the growth requirements for herbs and spices. There're definitely many types of variances (so do your research!) but it's generally quite safe to follow these guidelines.

Soil: No special requirements. Just make sure it can drain within 10 seconds. It's always safer to make the soil fast-draining and mulch and amend it with compost later than to spend days and weeks saving a plant with root-rot that was caused by waterlogging.

Light: Bright shade to full sun. Mediterranean plants will usually need full sun and dry conditions.

Watering: Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. How much depends on the individual plant.

Fertiliser: You'll have to do your own research on this but I personally focus most on nitrogen-based fertilisers.



Now we're all Singaporeans here so I'm guessing I can be very blunt about it...

Given free reign, even with rules, people will destroy your garden in under a week.

Maybe not so much established mint but most other herbs and spices, fast-growers as they are, cannot handle intensive pruning. Even mint will die if over-pruned over extended periods of time without giving it a proper chance to grow. My suggestion would be to have a program if you want to include the residents. Give them specific roles and responsibilities so that they have some level of ownership. Perhaps you can even work out a schedule.

That way, with some level of personal investment, residents will be more hesitant to just take things freely.
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#14 User is offline   Heian Edenwood 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 11:21 PM

Another suggestion is to put up a low fencing in front of the garden. People can easily step over but the fencing itself gives off a very clear message: These plants aren't yours to freely take. Not a fool-proof method but given what I've observed, most people will respect these boundaries set.

The slower growing ones can be planted at the back while the fast growing ones can be planted in the forefront. That way, if anyone decides to be inconsiderate, the groundcover (especially the shrubby kind) will deter them from picking off the slower growing plants.

And one thing to note about mint: NEVER NEVER NEVER plant it in the ground. You'll never get rid of it once it establishes itself. Even if you hack away the surface, the roots store enough energy for them to regenerate and grow back more vigorously than ever. What I would suggest is to plant individual mints into pots and sink the pots into the ground. That way, you can keep the mint under control (relatively) and make them all look like they're growing from the ground.
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#15 User is offline   Calvinlim 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 11:22 PM

Maybe I should not allow people to harvest then. There will be some who will break the rules and steal plants but I suppose with the rules in place, these instances will be minimised.

If the garden turns out to be nice, residents will enjoy it and take ownership and police it against abuse I suppose.

View PostHeian Edenwood, on 03 April 2012 - 11:16 PM, said:

Just some very general tips on the growth requirements for herbs and spices. There're definitely many types of variances (so do your research!) but it's generally quite safe to follow these guidelines.

Soil: No special requirements. Just make sure it can drain within 10 seconds. It's always safer to make the soil fast-draining and mulch and amend it with compost later than to spend days and weeks saving a plant with root-rot that was caused by waterlogging.

Light: Bright shade to full sun. Mediterranean plants will usually need full sun and dry conditions.

Watering: Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. How much depends on the individual plant.

Fertiliser: You'll have to do your own research on this but I personally focus most on nitrogen-based fertilisers.



Now we're all Singaporeans here so I'm guessing I can be very blunt about it...

Given free reign, even with rules, people will destroy your garden in under a week.

Maybe not so much established mint but most other herbs and spices, fast-growers as they are, cannot handle intensive pruning. Even mint will die if over-pruned over extended periods of time without giving it a proper chance to grow. My suggestion would be to have a program if you want to include the residents. Give them specific roles and responsibilities so that they have some level of ownership. Perhaps you can even work out a schedule.

That way, with some level of personal investment, residents will be more hesitant to just take things freely.

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#16 User is offline   Calvinlim 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 11:29 PM

View PostHeian Edenwood, on 03 April 2012 - 11:21 PM, said:

Another suggestion is to put up a low fencing in front of the garden. People can easily step over but the fencing itself gives off a very clear message: These plants aren't yours to freely take. Not a fool-proof method but given what I've observed, most people will respect these boundaries set.

The slower growing ones can be planted at the back while the fast growing ones can be planted in the forefront. That way, if anyone decides to be inconsiderate, the groundcover (especially the shrubby kind) will deter them from picking off the slower growing plants.

And one thing to note about mint: NEVER NEVER NEVER plant it in the ground. You'll never get rid of it once it establishes itself. Even if you hack away the surface, the roots store enough energy for them to regenerate and grow back more vigorously than ever. What I would suggest is to plant individual mints into pots and sink the pots into the ground. That way, you can keep the mint under control (relatively) and make them all look like they're growing from the ground.


I will ask the landscape contractor to look into isolating those mints.

BTW, plants I asked him to look into getting are:

1. Rosemary varieties such as upright rosemary and trailing rosemary
2. Lavender
3. Thyme
4. Oregano
5. Mint Varieties such as spear mint, pepper mint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, orange mint, etc. These need to be kept separate.
6. Basil Varieties such as thai basil, sweet basil, cinnamon basil, lemon basil, holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) etc. These need to be kept separate.
7. Shiso (Perilla - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perilla)
8. Camomile (I can grow these from a Dilmah tea bag!)
9. Stevia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia)
10. Bay leaves plant
11. Allspice plant (this is apparently a very nice plant with fragrant leaves. I hope we can grow it)
12. Italian parsley
13. Curry leaves
14. Laksa leaves
15. Limau Pulut - understand this attracts moths. Not sure if we should have them.
16. Lemon Balm
17. Lemon Verbana (is this the same as lemon balm?)
18. Cat Whiskers
19. Aloe Vera
20. Dill
21. Tarragon
22. Vitex Trifolia (mosquito plant)
23. Lemon Myrtle (http://en.wikipedia....ki/Lemon_myrtle)
24. Lemon Ecalyptus.
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#17 User is offline   Heian Edenwood 

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 11:51 PM

I'll put the plants I can give you in bold. Have more that I can give which are not in the list. You can take your pick if you drop by on Thursday evening. :)/>

1. Rosemary varieties such as upright rosemary and trailing rosemary
2. Lavender
3. Thyme
4. Oregano
5. Mint Varieties such as spear mint, pepper mint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, orange mint, etc. These need to be kept separate.
6. Basil Varieties such as thai basil, sweet basil, cinnamon basil, purple/red rubin basil, lemon basil, holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) etc. These need to be kept separate.
7. Shiso (Perilla - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perilla)
8. Camomile (I can grow these from a Dilmah tea bag!)
9. Stevia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia)
10. Bay leaves plant
11. Allspice plant (this is apparently a very nice plant with fragrant leaves. I hope we can grow it)
12. Italian parsley
13. Curry leaves
14. Laksa leaves
15. Limau Pulut - understand this attracts moths. Not sure if we should have them.
16. Lemon Balm
17. Lemon Verbana (is this the same as lemon balm?)
18. Cat Whiskers
19. Aloe Vera
20. Dill
21. Tarragon

22. Vitex Trifolia (mosquito plant)
23. Lemon Myrtle (http://en.wikipedia....ki/Lemon_myrtle)
24. Lemon Ecalyptus.
[/quote]
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#18 User is offline   miico 

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 12:46 AM

so far alot of thought on the herb plants... but what strikes me first when you put up the pics is all the concrete columns. they make for anchor points to put up trellis. pot n hang your mints. they make good hanging bushy plants.


instead of a single path down the middle... why not get more slabs and make 2 paths. between the paths can place bigger pots or planter boxes.

just brainstorming
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#19 User is offline   derelor 

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 02:29 AM

Hi Calvin,

its good that you have already put thought into the matter, so I am sure you will be well prepared when the situation arises.

So back to the choice of plants, I would hope that you will grow more local herbs than the mediterranean ones. The purpose of the garden is mainly because of education, so I think its better to concentrate on local herbs rather than mediterranean ones. The latter may look more "classy", but I believe that its the local herbs that require more attention from us. Let's put it this way, we eat curry leaves found in curries or butter prawns, but many have not seen how the curry plant looks like. On the other hand, we can still find the occassional basil and mint plants available for sale in supermarkets. Lastly, on a maintenance point of view, local herbs are generally more forgiving and resilient.

cheers,
Ben
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#20 User is offline   digitalgate 

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 06:55 AM

Usually contractor will quote u $300 for soil work . I believe that area is not easily accessible by lift right? Then that will increase the cost of soil work .
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