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Swiss Chard is one of the prettiest plants to grow in your garden. The stalks come in vibrant shades of white, yellow, orange, pink, and red. The big green leaves tend to be dark, glossy, and ruffled. Swiss Chard is known as a great addition to Southern recipes, but it has been the newest addition to Green Smoothies because of all of its nutritional properties. Growing Swiss Chard isn’t difficult, but it isn’t easy-peasy either.



In order to grow organically, you have to start with organic seeds. Make sure the Certified USDA Organic seal of approval is on the seed packet.  Sow the seeds two inches apart in well-draining organic soil. As with most large green leafy vegetables in the lettuce family, Swiss Chard likes to be well watered and doesn’t do well when allowed to dry out.


To grow an organic garden you also need to have organic soil. Swiss Chard can be sowed directly into garden soil that has had compost added to it  They also do wonderfully in raised beds that have organic potting soil, combined with organic soil amendments such as vermiculite plus blood and bone meal.



Swiss Chard is a cool season crop. So for Zones 4-6, it is best to plant it either in the Fall or in the Spring once the chance of frost has left the area. in Zones 7-9 you can sow the seeds twice – once in October and again in February. Swiss Chard tends to grow pretty quickly and you can sometimes grow it a few times before the weather makes it impossible. Learn your zone here.


Swiss Chard is one of those greens that tastes great when it is just sprouting and when it is fully grown. You can harvest Swiss Chard when it is just a few inches tall to add in your salads or other recipes. Let it grow full size if you are wanting it for juices and smoothies. Swiss Chard can grow quickly – so try both!

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Green beans have been cultivated in gardens for hundreds of years. There are hundreds of different varieties from bush to pole, from Heirloom to hybridized, and even colors ranging from dark green to purple. There are so many green beans to plant, so little time! Here is a little guide to show you how to grow green beans in your vegetable garden this summer.

Choose which variety of green bean to plant. The two basic green bean varieties are bush beans and pole beans. Bush beans spread out horizontally while pole beans need to climb vertically.

  • Recommended bush varieties for most regions include Bush Blue Lake and Bountiful.
  • Recommended pole varieties for most regions include Fortex and Kentucky Wonder.

Pick a sunny spot for your crop. Green beans need plenty of sunlight to grow properly, so try to choose an area of your garden that receives full sun for your planting site.

  • Since green beans do not do well in heavily-moist soil, you should avoid shaded locations, since shade tends to help soil retain moisture for prolonged periods.

Amend the soil, if needed. Green beans thrive in loamy soil, so if your garden has heavy clay soil or sandy soil, you should amend it with organic material before planting your green beans.

  • Loamy soil is dark and crumbly. Test the soil by squeezing it in your hands. Clay soil stays in a ball and sandy soil falls apart completely. Loamy soil will hold its shape initially yet break apart when touched.
  • If working with clay soil, spread 2 inches (5 cm) of manure or compost over the soil and work it into the top 1 foot (30.5 cm) of soil using a shovel or garden fork. You could also mix sawdust or sand into the soil if it is especially heavy.
  • If working with sandy soil, spread the same amount of heavy manure or compost into the soil in the same manner, but skip the sawdust.
  • No matter what type of soil you have, you should also make sure that the area is free of weeds, trash, stones, and other debris.

Apply fertilizer to the soil before planting the seeds. Green beans do not require a vast amount of nutrients, but a light application of fairly balanced fertilizer can help your plants produce a better crop.

  • Lightly apply a 10-20-10 fertilizer. This type of fertilizer is slightly richer in phosphorus than in nitrogen or potassium, so it is good for producing a strong crop yield.



Sow the seeds outdoors after the last spring frost. The absolute minimal soil temperature for green bean seeds is 48 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius). If the soil temperature drops below this, even at night, the seeds may not germinate well.

  • The best soil temperature during the planting stage is 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8 degrees Celsius), however. Ideally, the temperature should warm to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) once the plants reach the emergence stage.

Set up a trellis, if necessary. A trellis or other fencing is not necessary if you are planting bush beans, but if you are going with a pole variety, growing the crop without some form of trellis will severely hinder the growth and yield of your plants.

  • The simplest support you can provide for pole beans is a cattle panel. This is a small section of wire fence measuring about 16 by 5 feet (4.9 by 1.5 m). Simply set up the fence behind your growing area before planting the seeds.
  • You could also use a traditional pyramid trellis or a metal or plastic stake. Position either one just behind the planting location and make sure that the bottom 4 inches (10 cm) or so are underground.

Plant each seed 1 to 2 inches (2 1/2 to 5 cm) deep. Each seed should also be about 2 to 4 inches apart and covered lightly with loose soil.

  • If your soil is a little on the sandy side, plant the seeds a little deeper.

Apply mulch. A standard wood chip mulch works well with green beans. Mulch can prevent the soil from getting too cool or too warm, and it also helps the soil retain enough moisture.

  • Other good mulches include weathered straw and untreated lawn clippings.
  • Mulch can also help prevent the spread of weeds.
  • Apply roughly 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.6 cm) of mulch over the plants after the soil has started to warm up.

Harvesting and Storage




  1. Pick the green beans during an immature stage. The pods should be firm, and you should be able to snap them off the plant without tearing the stems.

    • Note that the seeds inside should not be allowed to fully develop. At a fully developed, mature stage, the inner seeds will turn hard.
    • Green beans are usually about the size of a small pencil when ready to harvest.
    • Harvest usually takes place 50 to 60 days from planting and 15 to 18 days after the full bloom stage.

    Store the green beans in a refrigerator. Keep harvested green beans in an airtight container and store for about 4 to 7 days in your refrigerator.

    • Freeze, can, or pickle green beans for long-term storage.

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Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is an herb with savory, deep green leaves that are harvested fresh and used to flavor a variety of Asian and Latin dishes. It is also known as coriander or Chinese parsley. Cilantro isn’t difficult to grow, the seeds can be planted directly in the soil as soon as all danger of frost has passed or they can be grown in a pot. Here’s how.


Choose the time of year

The best time to plant cilantro depends on where you live. Cilantro won’t survive in frosty conditions, but it doesn’t like extreme heat either. In temperate climates, the best time to start planting cilantro is in late spring, between the months of March and May.

In more tropical climates, cilantro will grow better during cooler, dry times of year, such as fall.

  • If the weather grows too hot, the cilantro plants will start to bolt – which means they will flower and go to seed, so choose your time of year wisely.

Cilantro Seeds

In cooking, cilantro seeds are called coriander. The “seeds” are actually two cilantro seeds encased in a husk. The husk is hard, round and is light brown or grey in color.

Before you plant them in the ground, you need to prepare the cilantro seeds to increase the chances that they will germinate. Gently crush the seed husk holding the two seeds together. Soak the cilantro seeds in water for 24 to 48 hours. Remove from the water and allow to dry.

Growing Cilantro In Pot

Select an appropriate pot. Choose a flower pot or container that’s at least 18 inches (45.7 cm) wide and 8 to 10 inches (20.3 to 25.4 cm) deep. Cilantro does not take kindly to being moved, so the pot needs to be big enough to contain the full grown plant

Plant the seeds. Fill the pot with some fast-draining soil. You can mix in some fertilizer too, if you like. Moisten the soil with a little water until it’s just damp, not soggy. Sprinkle the seeds lightly over the soil to disperse evenly. Cover with another 14inch (0.6 cm) of soil.

Place the pot in a sunny spot. Cilantro needs full sun to grow, so place it in a sunny window-sill or conservatory. The seeds should germinate within 7 to 10 days

Keep moist. Keep the soil moist using a spray bottle to lightly mist the soil. If you pour water onto the soil, it might displace the seeds.

Harvest the cilantro. Once the stems of the cilantro reach 4 to 6 inches (10.2 to 15.2 cm) in length, it is ready to be harvested. Cut up to 2/3 of the leaves each week, as this will encourage the plant to keep growing. This way, it is possible to harvest four crops of cilantro from a single pot




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As most blueberry bushes can grow very large, the best option for a patio or other urban garden is to plant a dwarf variety. Blueberry bushes begin producing after about three years, so you’ll have berries in a more timely manner if you buy a plant that is a couple years old as opposed to starting from seed. We recommend the dwarf ‘Tophat’ variety, or any of the interesting varieties produced by BrazelBerries, such as ‘Jellybean’ or ‘Peach Sorbet’— both perfect for containers.
Dwarf blueberries prefer an acidic soil with pH between 4.0 and 5.5. You can buy test kits from your local nursery to test your soil pH. If your soil pH is too high, you can add peat moss to bring it down; if your soil pH is too low, you can add a little bit of dolomite lime to the soil. You can also buy acidic soil from nurseries if you would prefer.
Grow blueberries in a large pot as they need the space to grow well. 12″-16″ in diameter should suffice.
To eliminate the guesswork in selecting the right size containers for your plants, we’ve put together a list of commonly grown herbs, veggies, fruit and flowers along with the minimum pot sizes required by each.


Keep well watered, and ensure your container has good drainage. In warm weather, this usually means watering every day.
Fertilize twice every spring, once at the beginning of the season and once late season. Blueberries prefer an acidic fertilizer such as those labelled for rhododendrons or azaleas. Either granular or liquid work equally well.

Where Can I Grow It?



Grow blueberries outdoors, in a sunny sheltered location.
Some varieties are self-pollinating, meaning you only need one plant to produce fruit. However, there are also plenty of varieties that require you to have more than one in order for proper pollination and fruit production to occur. Keep an eye out for this when you are buying your starter plants, especially if you only have room for one!

Growing Tips

Dwarf blueberry bushes reach a full size of 12-36″ tall, much smaller than the 5 to 6 feet of the full-sized versions.
Depending on the age of the plant when you get it, blueberries may take a year or two to establish themselves before bearing any fruit.
Coffee grounds can be used as an inexpensive blueberry fertilizer that helps to acidify the soil. Occasionally scatter your used coffee grounds on the soil around your blueberry plants to give them a boost.

Companion Planting

Blueberries grow well when planted together with strawberries, as the strawberries provide ground cover to keep the soil cool and damp (just how blueberries like it!). Avoid planting blueberries along with tomato plants.

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Sweet potatoes are grown from plants, not seeds or bulbs.

You can purchase sweet potato plants at a garden center or online.

You can also grow your own plants.

How To Grow Sweet Potato Plants

  1. Get a firm healthy sweet potato

If the sweet potato is starting to sprout, you have a head start.

Assume that most grocery store sweet potatoes are treated with an anti-sprouting chemical. Look for organic sweet potatoes or get from a gardening friend. My sweet potatoes came from my mom and a friend. I don’t know what variety they are but both of them had excellent sweet potato crops last year and they kept very well all winter. Sounds like traits I want to encourage!


  1. Place the sweet potato in a jar of water.

You want to submerse most of the sweet potato while allowing a couple inches above water. One of my sweet potatoes was so large it couldn’t fit well in the jar. Change the water occasionally to keep from molding. Place in sunlight. Soon the sweet potato will send out sprouts, or slips.


  1. When the sprouts are four to five inches long, pull them off the sweet potato. The sweet potato will grow more sprouts.
  2. Place the sprouts in water.

You can place a bunch of sprouts in the same jar. They will quickly grow roots.


  1. When the sprout is well rooted, plant in a hill of soil about ten inches high.

Wait until the soil is warm. In our area, this is in June.Sometimes we plant them after we pull out the peas to maximize our garden space.

Keep the plants well watered while the roots are being established. We like to mulch the hill to keep back the weeds as the sweet potato grows.

While sweet potatoes can’t be planted too early because they hate cold weather, they also can’t be planted too late. My aunt, who has grown sweet potatoes to sell for years, says to plant on July 4 at the very latest in our area of PA. Sweet potatoes need several months of growing time before the first frost to form tubers.

Some years I have started my sweet potato plants too late. They need adequate time to root before being planted outside. I have found that the beginning of March is a good time to start my plants.


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Summer squash, a category that includes Zucchini and Yellow Squash, is easy to grow unless your summers are very cold and rainy.

Starting squash seeds indoors is an option. You want to begin them 3-4 weeks before the final frost of the season. If you do opt to start them indoors, plant them in starters that can be transplanted along with them. Otherwise, the roots may become damaged in the process.

Whether starting indoors or directly outside, choose soil that is moist yet well drained. Squash will also appreciate full sun. Plant seeds one inch deep and 18-24 inches apart. If you wish, you can plant using a hill method, where you make a small hill and add a few seeds per hill. This method is advised if it is still chilly when planting season arrives.

Growing squash in containers can be a challenge and it is not typically advised. Should you decide you want to try, you need a deep container that can handle the far stretching roots. You would also be wise to use a trellis system to encourage the plant to grow upwards.

How to transplant your squash seedlings

Squash seedlings have incredibly long roots. Because of this, you want to start or purchase plants in biodegradable pots. This way, the roots can stay safe in the pot when you plant. Be sure that your planting hole is at least 6 inches deep so the roots have plenty of room to stretch. Loose soil that isn’t full of clay or compacted is also advised.

Mulch can help keep the squash plants moist and can help keep weeds at bay. Mulch along with 1-2 inches of water per week will keep your squash plants happy and flourishing.

How to care for your squash plants

Because the roots are deep, plan on watering once or twice a week for lengthy periods. You want the water to have the chance to work its way down to the deepest of roots. Feel free to fertilize several weeks into planting should the squash need a little boost. If it appears to be bright and flourishing, you can skip fertilizing.

Aphids and stink bugs like to dine on squash plants. Mist your plants with a mixture of water and dish soap (just a few drops of soap will do) to help repel the bugs and protect your plants. This is a wonderful method that eliminates the need for any chemical solutions.

Should you see any rot or discoloration set in, check your plants for pests and then make sure you are not over or under watering. Remember that 1-2 inches per week is sufficient, and best received by the plant when given all at once.

When and how to harvest squash

Like zucchini, bigger isn’t better when it comes to squash. You want to pick it when it is of modest size, about 6 inches in length. Pick the vegetable as close to the stem as possible. Once picked be gentle with the vegetable as it can bruise easily. If refrigerated, squash can last up to two weeks.

How to Grow Summer Squash

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6-ways-to-grow-more-tomatoes-in-containers-1Tomatoes are the perfect crop for small spaces: rewarding, productive and delicious.

Few people know more about growing tomatoes in containers than Nick Chenhall, tomato enthusiast and the man behind the excellent  Tomato Growing website.

In the video below, Nick shares his six top tips to get a big crop of tasty tomatoes. Watch the video till the very end to discover that tomato growing is not Nick’s only talent!

In a nutshell Nick’s six top tips are:

1. Choose the right size container for the variety

  • At least a six litre (1.5 gallon) for dwarf, bush types or vining cherry tomatoes.
  • At least a ten litre (2 gallon) for a larger beefsteak tomato.

2. Grow cherry tomatoes rather than big beefsteak tomatoes.

Cherry tomatoes grow and ripen more easily, and will usually give you a better crop. Dwarf, bush cherry tomatoes (perfect for small pots and hanging baskets) recommended by Nick include

  • Minibel
  • Microtom
  • Tom Thumb
  • Balconi Red
  • Balconi Yellow

And vine cherry tomatoes varieties Nick recommends include

  • Black cherry
  • Gardeners delight
  • Sungold (F1)
  • Sun Cherry Premium (F1)

Chose a non F1 variety if you want to save your own seeds – it’s easy to do with tomatoes

3. Ensure the roots of your tomatoes receive a good supply of air.

  • Add 10 – 20% perlite to your growing mix
  • Use an Airpot or drill lots of small holes in the side of your pot for the roots to breathe.
  • Or, insert a tube with holes drilled in it, into the growing mix.

4. Support your tomatoes with stakes or strings.

  • Bush tomatoes also benefit from support.

5. When watering, it’s important the whole soil area is saturated with water.

  • Add a cup of used washing up water to your watering can once every couple of weeks. This acts as a wetting agent, and helps re-wet areas that have dried out.

6. Feed little and often

  • Nick recommends using a tomato feed, diluted more than on the instructions and used more often.
  • For example, you might feed half the recommended dose twice as often.

6 ways to grow more tomatoes in containers 1

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How To Grow Broccoli In Your Garden

Broccoli is a staple for many families that want to eat healthy. It isn’t exactly cheap though! Growing broccoli in your garden just might be the answer.

Broccoli is a cool season vegetable that can be planted in early May in Zones 4-6 and in September and February in Zones 7-10 (check to see your growing zone). You can grow broccoli from either seeds or transplants.


Broccoli needs a bit of space to grow. A mature plant can grow to 12-14″ so seeds should be spaced at least 12″ apart. You can harvest broccoli throughout its growing season and not grow a traditional head. Grow broccoli in a raised bed or out in the vegetable garden. It also can be grown in a container as the main focal plant with other herbs and veggies planted around it.

How to grow broccoli from seeds:

Broccoli is slow growing, so start it indoors 6 weeks before the final frost of the season. Use a nutrient rich soil and plant seeds ½ an inch deep in your seed starters.

How to transplant your broccoli seedlings:

Most seedlings are fine to be transplanted when 2-3 inches tall, but you want to wait until broccoli seedlings are a good 5-6 inches tall before you move them. You want them to be hardy, and to be sure the threat of further frost has passed.

Seedlings should be planted a good 3 inches deep, and each plant should have a at least 12 if not 18 inches between it and other plants. Broccoli does like to stretch out, so by giving it this kind of space you can allow it to do so and thrive.

How to care for broccoli seedlings:

Broccoli is such a low key vegetable. You will find that it doesn’t need any fancy care in order to get it growing. Be sure it is getting 6 hours of sunlight a day and is in moist soil. You don’t want to allow the soil to dry out at any point.

Pests may be a problem, so be sure to keep an eye out for bugs such as aphids. When you see them, remove the pest as well as any damaged portion of the plants. Some also like to put collars around the stem of their broccoli plants to keep pests from eating and climbing on them. You can create your own collar out of paper or cardboard tubes if you wish.

Fertilizing your broccoli is not necessary. Should you still want to, a basic garden fertilizer will do the trick.


The average head of broccoli is the size of an adult fist. Do not wait for the head to grow any larger than that as it will not taste the same. It will instead be bitter and dull. Do not wait for the broccoli head to flower or produce small white bumps. Instead, simply cut it at the stem when it is the size of a fist and bright green.

Once your broccoli is harvested you can steam it, eat it fresh, add it to salads, and cook it into casseroles! Broccoli has so many serving options, you may have to grow a whole garden full to try them all.

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How To Grow Spinach In Containers 1

If you’re short on garden space but committed to eating a healthy, balanced diet and would like to take part in growing your own produce, container gardening is the answer. Almost anything that grows in a garden can be grown in a container. Growing spinach in containers is an easy, nutrient-rich, fast-growing crop to start with. Read on to find out how to grow spinach in containers and the care of spinach in pots.

Growing Spinach in Pots from Seeds

Sow seeds 1/2 inches deep directly in containers or in a seed tray. Seedlings will germinate in 5-14 days depending on the variety and growing conditions. If you have sown seeds in a seed tray wait until 2-3 true leaves appear in each plant and then transplant them into the original pots carefully.

Choosing a pot

For growing spinach in pots, choose a pot that is least 6-8 inches deep. You don’t need a very deep pot rather use a wide pot. You can either use so many small pots and grow one plant in each or select large window boxes, wooden boxes or crates.

Provide each spinach plant a space of 3 inches, if you want to pick large leaves give more space to each plant, 5 inches. If you want to harvest leaves at very young age, then this area can be reduced to 2 inches only. Divide the planter box into squares, and see how many plants will feel comfortable in it.


If you are growing spinach in fall (autumn), keep the plant in a sunny spot (in mild climates) due to shorter days and less intensity of the sun. For spring and summer planting keep your potted plants in a location where it receives some shade, especially in the afternoon. In subtropical or tropical climate, place the containers in a spot that receives plenty of shade.


For growing spinach in containers, use quality potting mix rich in organic matter. The texture of soil must be crumbly and loamy. Avoid soil that clogs the drainage and remains waterlogged. Well-draining soil is most important factor for the optimum growth of spinach in containers. Soil pH must be neutral.


When growing spinach in containers avoid water stagnation because it will lead to the development of rot and various fungal diseases. Also, avoid wetting the foliage. Keep the soil moist but not soggy or wet. It is necessary to take care of good drainage in the pot.

Spinach seeds germinate in temperatures as low as 40 F (4 C) and in high temperatures too. The best soil temperature for growing spinach falls in the range of 50-80 F (10-27 C). Many spinach cultivars can tolerate temperature down to 20 F (-6) and up to 90 F (32 C) easily. Once the temperature starts to soar high you may need to provide shade to your plants.

Pests and Diseases

You don’t need to worry much about pests as you’re growing spinach in containers, in a small space and you can easily control them. However, keeping an eye on leaf-eating insects like slugs and caterpillars and other common garden pests like aphids will help you in eliminating them in time.


The spinach plant will be ready for harvest 37-50 days after germination depending on the growing conditions and cultivar.

Harvesting can be done when the plant has formed at least 5-6 healthy leaves and they are at least 3-4 inches long. Pick outer leaves first and leave the new inner leaves so that they continue to grow or cut the whole plant off at the base with a knife or scissor, the plant will resprout again.

 How To Grow Spinach In Containers

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Easiest Herbs to Grow in Your Garden

So long as there is no snow on the ground, you can harvest herbs in your garden. There is nothing more satisfying and simple than snipping off just what you need and enjoying the garden fresh flavor without having to fork out a few bucks per bunch at the market.

Herbs are among the easiest plants to grow. If you have a piece of land to plant them, great, but many actually do better in a container because their prolific nature can be contained. You can also place them right near your kitchen for quick cooking access.

Here is my list of my top ten “can’t live without” garden herbs.

1. Parsley


Parsley is ones of those super foods that do more good things for a body than seems possible for such a little leafy green plant. Among other things, it contains more vitamin C than than bascially anything else you can eat. You can make lots of things with it, but I pretty much chop and sprinkle it on most every dish that comes out of my kitchen.

2. Rosemary


Use it fresh or dried — the flavor is fantastic either way. If you grow it in a pot, it will happily move inside when the weather gets too cold. Also, since it likes to dry out between waterings, it likes its own space, as there aren’t too many other plants that prefer the same treatment.

Favorite uses: Holiday Gifts (the piney smell is perfect for the season) and chopped and sprinkled atop store bought pizza dough, baked and drizzled with olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

3. Lavender


You can grow lavender in a variety of climates. Suitable for cool temperate or Mediterranean climates you can also grow this most beautiful herb in subtropical regions.
If you want to multiply it, do it by cuttings of 10 cm. in size in summer.

4. Sage


One of the toughest herbs that prefer full sun situations, especially if you live in a cool climate, always plant sage in a warm place. Sage can be grown in a variety of soil types, well draining and permeable soil with little organic matter is recommended. In subtropical or tropical climatic zones, grow sage in a slightly clayey soil in pots and provide shade in the afternoon. *Overwatering must be avoided.


5. Oregano


This plant also acts like a ground cover but it is generally polite and doesn’t spread too aggressively. I prefer the ‘Greek’ variety as this is more like the organo flavor you expect.

Favorite uses: Sprinkle liberally (fresh or dried) over fresh homemade pizza, add to the pot when making sauce from abundant garden fresh tomatoes.

6. Lemon Verbena


Being a subtropical herb lemon verbena needs a warm environment to thrive. Grow the plant in direct sun. In cooler zones, growing lemon verbena in pots is a better idea to protect it from frost.

7. Basil

basil plants

Basil must be planted in full sun (6 hours minimum) in a well-drained and moist soil. Pick leaves to encourage the growth and when the plant is young pick the tips for thick bushier shape.

8. Chamomile


It likes full sun, with well-drained and permeable soil. It is resistant to drought and once bloomed in the spring, you should cut it to regain its strength. If you collect the flowers, you must do this in its fullness, dry flowers in shade to avoid the exposure to direct sunlight to avoid spoilage.

9. Mint


Mint is a very aromatic, perennial herb that can be grown in pots or in garden soil.
It needs plenty of water and supply of mineral fertilizers or natural organic fertilizers to spread heavily. It grows better in partial shade. You can easily get new plants from its cuttings or by dividing the root ball.

10. Curry Tree


Grow the pungent curry tree plant if you want to enjoy more flavor in your South East Asian delicacies and Indian curries. However, the curry tree does not tolerate frost but it is exceptionally a low maintenance, drought resistant tropical herb. You can grow it in a pot and protect it in winters, it’s easy.