Herb troubleshooting – help!

June 27, 2009

garlic2 day 14 june 27So here is my garlic-in-progress, beginning with Ricardo’s special housewarming garlic, of which I took one clove and planted it.

By day 5, all was well; new growth was peeping out of the potting mix. Day 8, it was up and at ’em and lovely bright green.

But we’re at day 14 now, and I am a bit worried about it – it’s taller, but it is looking rather wan – pale and washed out.

Any advice?? Am I overwatering? Not enough sun? Need food already?? It did rain a lot in the last couple of weeks…

Luckily, if this one doesn’t make it I have a plan B – thanks to the fabulous Cate Kennedy, she of the stunning short story collection Dark Roots (as well as a new novel in the works and, I am proud to say, being a contributor to our new anthology Brothers & Sisters, out in November – her story is a killer).

I arrived home yesterday to a little packet in my letterbox. When I opened it, I was thrilled to find a little plastic zip-lock bag full of baby garlic plants! This package was accompanied by a card from Cate saying she’d read my blather here about Oz garlic being hard to find, and yanked these out of her Victorian lawn.

How good is that?? Have planted those babies today and you’ll see them appearing here very soon I hope!

In the meantime, I’ve also herbs day 14begun planning my herb garden, which will go under the bathroom window as soon as the window frame is painted.

Am raising some thyme, basil and parsley from seed.

At least, I’m raising some basil and thyme, as you can see – but what’s gone on with the damn parsley?? Not a peep. Two weeks in, and nutting doing.

Once again (Jamie, are you out there?), I need help! Will it come up? Dud seed packet? too cold? What have I done wrong?


  1. Charlotte
    Parsley will take three to four weeks to come up from seed – it’s one of the slowest (but growing it from seed is best, so stick with it). Be prepared for the basil to cark it, though. It’s a summer herb that hates the cold, so if it dies on you just wait until mid August then sow some more seed then. The thyme should be OK. As for the garlic, it needs as much sunshine as possible. Ideally, that’s six hours of direct sun a day. Is it getting that? And a little bit of plant food helps, too. At four-week intervals, I lay down lines of Dynamic Lifter (chicken poo) either side of the rows of garlic shoots. Also, does the box holding the garlic have drainage holes in the bottom to let water escape? And is the box sitting directly on the ground, so the water cannot flow away? Without good soil drainage, that could be your problem. so sit the box up on little chocks (pot feet) of some sort to improve drainage.

    • Thanks Jamie, I knew you would know. And now of course I remember that I have usually sowed my basil directly in the ground in August (only because that’s when we first got the keys to this house), and by December it’s always been thigh high. So, will try to keep it warm but prepare for death. (Sob.)

      As for the garlic, it’s in a pot (perhaps too big) but is up on chocks. Not getting nearly enough sun though it’s in the sunniest spot we have at present – probably three hours a day, which in spring starts to get more and in summer is all-day sunshine. Perhaps I’ve just started too early on all fronts – been dying to get the garden happening again after all the building work and am jumping the gun. Hrmph. Maybe I should just work on the soil instead, but can’t do that until the painter has done the windows – hmph again.

      Anyhoo, THANKS for all your horticultural wisdom. Will let you know how it goes …

  2. One other good winter herb to try, if you’re hot to trot, is coriander. It does a heap better in the cooler months than the summer months, when it goes from leafy to seedy in about a fortnight and is next to useless in the garden. Right now, coriander will stay nice and leafy until about October.
    If that’s the best you can do with the garlic, it’ll come good once the sunshine increases and the weather warms. It should be ready to harvest in about December.

  3. Jamie, you were so right – the parsley now has liftoff. So far so good with the basil, too. I’m going to give the coriander a crack shortly. But although I am spending half the day ferrying the garlic from one patch of sun to another, it’s still looking decidedly peaky. Suspect it won’t last the distance ….

  4. […] of a heap of baby garlic in the post, sent by Cate after reading of my garlic-growing anxiety here ( I killed the other one, by the […]

  5. […] completely stalled, though looks quite upstanding still, so I’m thinking from Jamie’s earlier advice that despite our current average daily maximums of 19 and 20 degrees C,  it’s perhaps still […]

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