Thursday, 21 February 2019

How to Water Your Plants, Grow Lemon Balm and Sprouts.

Is it possible to have a simple self-watering system? Here’s a guide in the Good Earth segment with permaculture guru Margaret Mossakowska. Growing sprouts and shoots in vegetable heroes, and Herbalist Simone Jeffries talks about Lemon Balm in Plant of the Week. Plus,what to do with if your outdoor dining setting is in too much sun in Design Elements?


Simple Self Watering System
Today we’re going upward to grow our produce or herbs but we’re doing it with a simple self-watering system.
photo Margaret Mossakowska
If you have large trees in your garden or your neighbour has trees that overshadow yours, this is a great way to utilise the sunny parts of your garden without taking up too much space.
This is a DIY wicking system that you can either build yourself or that you can get help with from either a friend or the ‘men’s shed.’
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska from
Let’s find out how to build it.

photo Margaret Mossakowska
Things you need are polypipes/pvc pipes that are 10 - 15cm in diameter.
Hole cutter to cut holes in the top of the pipes so that the pots are suspended.
You don't want the pots sitting in water because this leads to anaerobic fermentation in the soil.
Make up some wicks out of textiles such as old t-shirts, poly fleece, or geo-tex off-cuts. As long as it's synthetic fabric otherwise it will rot.

You need 2-3 wicks per pot measuring a total of 35cm length.
Push the wicks through the pot so that they are about half way into the potting mix.

It’s achievable and once set up, you’ve got an ongoing self watering system to last you for years.

This system could even be erected on a balcony and is a much better system that the vertical plastic grow bags.
In Summer this watering system doesn’t have to be topped up for around two weeks. 
For more detailed information visit
If you have any questions either for me or for Margaret, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Sprouts and shoots.
 What’s something you can grow on your kitchen bench and it’s even something that schoolkids can do?
Sprouts of course.
Alfalfa Sprouts
Did you know those white sprouts that you see in Asian dishes or in packets in supermarkets are mung bean sprouts that you can do yourself?
Are you disappointed when you buy commercially prepared sprouts in that sealed plastic bag only to find that after a couple of days they’ve gone slimy and brown?
Or you go to the supermarket to buy sprouts only to find that they’re out of them?
If that’s you, then you need to grow your own sprouts.
What You Need
  • All you need are the seeds to start with, a jar with a wide mouth and muslin  or cheesecloth or some other lightweight mesh to cover the top of the jar, a rubber band and water.
  • Oh and a dark place to put your sprout jar until they’ve sprouted then you need to move them to a lighter location, otherwise they won’t grow and will probably go mouldy.
  • That’s it.

Here’s a tip: don’t use seeds that are meant to be sown in the garden because these may be treated with a fungicide.
In fact it’s best to use organic seed that are sold as sprouting seeds.
Also seeds that are split, like split lentils and split peas aren’t any good for sprouting.
You need whole seeds most likely from the health food section of your supermarket or a health food store or from a seed supplier.
Start off with mung beans, green peas or lentils.
Did you know there’s about 50 different types of seeds that you can sprout?
 From Alfalfa, Dill, and Fenugreek, through to sunflower seeds.
Another tip: sprouts will need their water changed a couple of times a day.
If you’re going away for a couple of days and won’t be able to rinse your sprouts then don’t start them.
How to grow sprouts.
  • Sprouts can be grown all year even in winter, but you’ll need a warm kitchen at that time.
  • Remove any broken or discoloured seeds, stones, twigs, or hulls that may have found their way into your sprouting seeds.
  • Place one type of seed in the jar.
  • Use about a tablespoon of seeds or one-third cup of beans.
  • Why so little? Because you’re going to be soaking the beans or seeds and they’ll grow in size when they sprout.
  • Cover the seeds with distilled or filtered water.
  • How much water?
  • For a couple of tablespoons of seeds, cover with at least one cup of water. For beans, nuts, or grains, use at least three times the water of the amount of seed.
  • That will meant one cup of water for one third cup of mung beans for example.
  • The seeds need to soak for about 6 to 12 hours in general but some need more and some need less.
  • Small seeds: 3-8 hours
  •  Larger seeds or legumes: 8-16 hours
  • Grains: 10-16 hours
  • It’s a good idea to start them before going to bed if you’re working, otherwise during the daytime is fine.
  • Cover the jar with the cheesecloth and make the cloth tight using a rubber band. Or you can make a lid using mesh like in the picture.
  • Then drain off the water.
  • Rinse the beans or seeds with fresh water and drain off the water again.
  • Set upside down in a clean, cool spot in your kitchen area, preferably on a slight angle to allow excess water to drain off.
  • Otherwise you could put the jar on a stainless steel dish drying rack which gives the sprout jars the perfect angle for draining.
  • Rinse the sprouts two to three times a day.
  • Be sure to drain them well each time so they’re not sitting in any water.
  • When the jar is full the sprouts or legumes are ready to use.
  • Alfalfa or mung bean sprouts are ready in about a week.

What Next?
  • Now’s the time to put them in a large bowl of cool water and stir them around to loosen hulls and skins from the seeds (this is an optional step).
  • They’ll usually come to the top so you can remove them.
  • Don’t worry about removing every hull but if you do take the time to remove the hulls, the sprouts will last longer.
  • Drain your sprouts well and store in the refrigerator covered for a week to 10 days, depending on the sprout type.
  • Store in an airtight container (a capped sprouting jar is fine) in the fridge.

Don’t put them into a plastic bag because they’ll go slimy.
If this sounds like to much hard work, there are electric sprouter kits available too.
These (Easy Green)  automatic sprouters will: soak, rinse, mist, oxygenate and drain through the full seed to sprout growth cycle.
Ready to eat sprouts

Some can hold 5 cartridge-style sprouting trays (supplied 320 x 60 mm,)
So you can have 5 different sprouts or use the one big tree for larger quantities of wheat, barley or oats.
You can also buy sprouter jars with special sprout friendly lids-have mesh for airflow and come with a stand that leans at 450.
How do you use sprouts-one great dish to put them on top of is Laksa-a sort of spicey soup with noodles and your choice of fish, chicken, meat or tofu.
Why Is It Good for You?
Sprouts are full of antioxidants; they’re also full of protein, chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Plus they have beneficial enzymes making them easy to digest.

Lemon Balm as Herbal
Herbs are a great addition to any garden even if you’re just growing them in a pot or trough.
They’re useful plants to have because they tend to be used almost daily throughout the year in our cooking.
This is one herb that’s not talked about too much when Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme are mentioned.
I'm talking with Simone Jeffries, Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist .
Let’s find out …

Lemon balm is also used for insomnia, cold sores, indigestion, and heartburn
In essential oil form, the scent of lemon balm is said to reduce stress.
Lemon Balm
Lemon balm makes a great calmative tea. 
Put 5-6 leaves in boiling water and let steep for 5 minutes.
Sip before bed-time for a restful night's sleep.
Grow it from seed if you don’t know someone who can give you a piece.
Remember Simone’s tip, grow it in a pot if you don’t want it taking over your garden.


Peter's Sea Changer Garden
No Shade For Outside Dining
Summer has been hot, really hot, and we want to cool off.

In the evening, things cool down a bit, but the sun stays up late.

So what do you do if just outside the back door where the outdoor dining setting is, it’s still really stinking hot?

You sit outside for a little while and then you can’t stand it anymore and retreat inside.

So what can you do to fix that?
 Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer

You could make yourself a shade hut or a dining canopy.
Or if you want a pergola, grow a deciduous climber on it that will drop it’s leaves in winter so that you can enjoy some winter sun.


Designer Peter Nixon ‘Clifton’ Masterclass on Sydney Cool Subtropics Gardens
7 Woolwich Road, Hunters Hill, 10am – 11.30am
Wednesday 1st May, 2019

Peter Nixon’s home work garden ’Sea-Changer’ will open free on Saturday 4th May, 10am till 2pm at 21 Lavinia Street, Forresters Beach on the Central Coast an hour’s drive from the Wahroonga on ramp. See Garden Lovers & or Instagram at Designers midday ‘Walk & Talk’ & 1 page hand out for exciting names of plants in flower and or foliage on the day.

No comments:

Post a Comment