Skinflint Sunday: Fun with potting mix.


Last weekend I finally had the time to play with the wicking boxes. I had an hour before it got too dark to see and there was a choice between doing some cleaning or doing the wicking boxes. I wrestled half-heartedly with temptation before reluctantly forgoing my natural inclination to clean the house (cough cough) and going outside to look after the living beings. I know… I’m selfless.

I went to the $2 shop to buy the black wicking boxes I’ve already got, but they were out of them so I bought these jolly coloured ones instead. I now have to go back and get some more, as they don’t go all the way along the front of the house and I want them to. A gardener’s work never ends.

From left to right I have 1. Rosemary (from foodnstuff) and an Olive plant; 2. Lemon Verbena (from foodnstuff) and a purple sage from Ceres; 3. Basil mint (from foodnstuff); 4. Spinach; 5. Spanish taragon and Lemon Verbena (thanks foodnstuff) and 6. Spearmint.

I bought the purple sage from one of the times when a son was over the other side of town doing a seminar for his distance ed Music subject and I’d go to Ceres in a desperate attempt to kill time. Happy happy days. As you can see, foodnstuff has given me lots of plants and seeds over the years and I’m still nurturing them. The two lemon verbenas have been living in terracotta pots on my front porch but they were starting to look a bit sad. I didn’t want to lose them and they needed a bit of rejuvenation. I figure they can live in the wicking boxes for a year or two until I pay off my house, go to the UK to visit Scott and see a castle and then come back and plant out my front garden in a guerilla food forest so the garden will all be edible, but no one except other gardeners will know. When the zombie apocalypse comes I want to have a sporting chance of keeping my crops. I wouldn’t be happy if I couldn’t brew a revivifying cup of lemon verbena tea while machine-gunning the zombie hoardes. (Can you tell I’m missing ‘The Walking Dead’?)


I gave this lemon verbena a haircut before I planted it so it was bare twigs with just a couple of leaves a little while ago. I think it’s happy here. I put some worms from the freezer worm farm in there as well, with a layer deep down of chook bedding filled with their manure, so I figure there’s a lot for the worms to live on while they’re fertilising the soil for the plants. I also sprinkled some parsley seeds around them from the parsley Jane gave me from the gardening club… the parsley that was brought from Italy back in the 30’s or 40’s. It’s going strong in my garden and I’m happy to keep it going. We had pizza a couple of nights ago and I had no greenery to put on them, so I cut handfuls of parsley and used that. Good stuff!


Gardeners are optimists. Remember last year when I planted over 100 cloves of garlic and all but one patch was eaten alive by black aphids? Fortunately, the one patch of garlic that was ok was the garlic given to me by the boys’ Nonna. I saved it all and I’ve planted it this year. This year I’m going to be vigilant and spray the living daylights out of any aphid brave enough to show its face. (Do they have faces??) Does anyone have a preferably organic method of controlling them? I used white oil last year and I’d like to try something else. If organic doesn’t work, I’ll use anything short of plutonium. I’d hate to lose Nonna’s garlic. I like the idea of growing it year after year for the family.

I also added a few garlic cloves to some of the wicking boxes as I was planting them up. I figure I might as well make use of the space. They’re already coming up around the sage and the rosemary.

You can also see the empty soft drink bottles that I use as the watering tubes for the wicking beds. I cut both the ends off one and the bottom off another one and tape them together so that I have a lid at the top so mozzies won’t use the reservoir at the bottom to lay eggs. The boys love it when I’m making wicking boxes because I NEVER buy soft drink. They’re so eager to be helpful and empty the bottles for me. It’s the only time they actually volunteer to help me with a gardening task. Such sweet boys…


The thing I really love about blogging is the community we share. Every time I look at a plant that someone has given me it reminds me of that person and what was going on when they gave me that plant. Last year I delivered a thermomix to Bek and she gave me some saffron bulbs. I planted them far too late I’m sure, but so far I have 3 that are shooting. This is the beginning of a cash crop that will support me in my old age, seeing that saffron is the most valuable plant crop by weight. From little things… fortunately I’m a very patient woman.


Blogless Sandy and I went halvies in an order for dwarf mulberries. She, being the organised type, planted hers right away but mine is still in a pot on the front porch. Much to her chagrin, mine is producing berries while hers isn’t. (It’s producing berries as a sign of stress, most likely, but I won’t tell her that.) I really should get around to planting it but I can’t decide where I want it. I ate the black mulberry after I took the photo.

Yesterday I went out to the other side of town to do a thermomix demo for a blogreader who is gardening, making bread and making wicking boxes. Can you guess that we had a garden tour after the demo? She got me to try kneading her sourdough bread (mixed with chia seeds) in the thermomix and then we experimented with extracting basil seeds from their pods by putting the blades in reverse and going on speed 6 for a few seconds. foodnstuff first blogged about doing this a year or so ago and Yvonne hadn’t forgotten about it.

She is so enthusiastic about her garden and is gradually moving her husband’s native garden plants away to get more garden space for the veggies. This reminded me irresistibly of Shane from the gardening club, who is doing much the same thing in his backyard with his wife. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m single! Anyway, Yvonne grows lots of things from seeds and has a little greenhouse, which is something I don’t have yet but I really should get onto. Apparently there’s a lot of food swaps on that side of town and …. greater praise for the thermomix I have yet to hear…. she gave up attending her favourite one in order to host the demo on the Saturday morning. Of course she bought a thermomix and I’m so pleased. She’ll have so much fun with it and she’ll use it in a myriad of ways. (You should start your own blog, Yvonne. …)

She sent me off with some of her sourdough bread to eat in the car on the way home. Oh My Goodness. We started making sourdough at around the same time, but unlike me who makes a loaf once in a blue moon she actually organises herself to make it regularly so she now knows what she’s doing. That bread was SO good. I’ve decided I have to make a loaf a week (if not more) because her bread was so nice you could live off nothing else and be perfectly content. (As long as you had a bag of Aldi gummy bears secreted away somewhere, of course…)

Anyway, this isn’t getting my own gardening done! I had a demo postpone today so I have time to leap out into the garden and Get Things Done. It’s a sunny day so there’s no excuse. The fact that it’s 10.45AM and I’m still sitting here in my pjs and slippers is a bit sad though, so I’d better get moving.

Thermomix recipe: Chicken and brown Rice soup. Seriously the BEST SOUP EVER. The first time I made it I found myself literally groaning with pleasure every time I took a mouthful. (Hmmm… maybe I’ve been single too long…?) The home-made chicken stock that comes with this recipe is fabulous.

This entry was posted in Fruit trees, gardening, thermomix, vegetables, wicking beds. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Skinflint Sunday: Fun with potting mix.

  1. Linda says:

    I love the idea of using the drink bottles! How clever!

  2. Catherine says:

    Wow. Your garden is looking amazing. Love the idea of drink bottles in the wicking pots too. Ohh and I would have to buy more of those pots too. Couldn’t stand the thought of them not going all the way along the front of the house….lol.

  3. Yvonne says:

    Glad to hear you love the SD, here the recipe if you like to try it out:
    It’s my favourite daily bread and all time favourite.

  4. Liz says:

    Pyrethrum kills black aphids but you have to spray a few times to keep them away. I noticed them on my newly planted garlic yesterday and got very annoyed. I squished all I could see but will get the pyrethrum out as soon as the weather fines up a bit.

  5. Jacqui says:

    This is the recipe I used for aphids on my chives this summer. Totally soaked the plants and surrounding ground. Think we did it for a couple of days. No problem since. Most years they die

    2 drops of dish washing detergent
    1 teaspoon each of the following:
    baking soda, cooking oil of any kind, salt

    Put the above items in a 24 oz. spray bottle and fill it with water, and you are ready to combat the aphids.

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