The Ergonomics Of It

For a few years now we’ve had a possum proof/chook pen style garden out in the backyard. At first, the setup seemed tremendous, and I planted heaps of herbs within it. But we quickly realised it wasn’t set up well for people to access or tend to the plants. Keep reading to see what we faced and how we fixed it. Now we have everything we need closer to our fingertips.

Herb Garden with Chicken Wiring

Urgh. Try getting into that thing quickly. Possum proof but almost human-proof too!

The Problem

To access the plants within you have to either squeeze your hand through some chicken wire or lift this big plank of wood attached to the said chicken wire and fling it over the top of the ‘cage’ to get in. It’s a built up garden, so it is an excellent height to access, however, if you plant anything too far back you have to duck and enter the garden bed itself at your own risk.

Many a time I’ve had a snagged head of hair as a result of this! I’ll admit, it’s sturdy AF and has served us well for many a year. If you wanted to tend to the plants at the back, you had to walk on the soil – which ended up very compressed in many areas. Also because the veggie patch is nowhere near the kitchen or on the path you take to get there (driveway, stairs, verandah) it’s a pain in the rear to pick the herbs down there if I’ve forgotten to get them earlier before dark or cooking has commenced. Fantastic for growing vegetable that you don’t access a lot though.

The Solution(s)

For the difficult to reach areas of this garden, I’ve placed some self-watering stackable posts spread out though rather than on top of each other – and I’ve planted the additional parsley, basil and chilli plants I have in them. I don’t have to step into the garden to reach them as often for watering now. Plus I have enough herby foliage to be able to gather any surplus harvest to make recipes that require a larger quantity, like pesto or curry pastes.

Side View Wired Herb Garden with Seedlings

Seriously, look at that wiring. Further down you’ll see the replacement. Self-watering blue and white pots at the back of the garden make it less of a problem to reach plants regularly for watering. Ceramic white chook in the foreground creates a great feature.

We swapped the wire with bird netting for easier access.

Herb Garden with Net Down

A few adjustments to this garden, including replacing the wiring on top with bird netting, meant a much more accessible bounty of herbs and vegetables. Also, it can be pulled back to allow more light in as required. The frame including recycled tent poles and some old fence wood helps give the netting its shape.

We added a few handy stepping stones strategically placed around the garden so you can step on one part of the plot without compressing many areas of dirt. I’ve also bought some ceramic amazingly real life looking chooks to chuck in there. In the autumn or mid-summer when there’s no rain and many things seem to die from the heat, it looks great because the chooks look like they’re working on a garden bed in fallow.

Verandah Pots for Frequently Used Herbs: I bought some lightweight pots from the local hardware store to sit on the shelf jutting out of our verandah. It’s effortless to fit these into the style of the home you’ve created. For me, a modern pale grey stone look was the best (Tuscan something) to continue the natural feel of the Italian grey tiles downstairs and tie in downstairs and upstairs. It’s here I planted a variety of herb seedlings that have since flourished. They are only a few steps away from the kitchen, so it’s incredibly easy to duck out (even in the dark) and select a few leaves to add to cooking. I still keep some additional parsley, shallots, and basil down in the main garden.

The Herbs On The Verandah And Those Still In The Garden

Up On The Verandah

Upstairs we now have two rectangular, and three round taller pots – one for the rosemary, one for the oregano and the other for a small bay leaf tree. As the mixture of herbs in the two rectangular pots grows bigger and bigger, I can easily transplant some into other pots to make room for all. (this is how we ended up with one whole area dedicated to the furiously growing oregano!).

At the moment the rectangular pots hold different varieties of thyme (lemon thyme in one and original thyme in other), sage, marjoram, a small chilli plant which I’ll be transplanting soon out to the main vegetable garden as I don’t use it as often as the others, coriander, parsley and mint. I’ve gambled a bit with the combination of these herbs (for example, some recommend having mint in its pot as its root system can take over) but have also considered companion planting for herbs. Having been almost a year and I’ve been living the herb garden/gardener dream!

Early Stages of Verandah Garden

Early days for the verandah herb garden – looking very happy and ready to flourish. See 0 post for a pic of this garden in full swing months later.

Downstairs In The Garden

A bay leaf tree and kaffir lime tree which were initially both in the garden are now in large pots. The bay leaf tree is up on the verandah while the kaffir lime tree is down among the trees near the pool. I’ve found because we eat a lot of bolognese that I was using bay leaf much more frequently and therefore it was better to have it nearby. Also, because it’s a dwarf tree, it won’t tower over anything as it grows up and will still be very easy to manage! I’ve also used a lovely tall pot for our lemongrass and stuck it in the rock garden as a green feature. It can survive in any condition, smells excellent, and provides excellent lemongrass portions fresh and ready to use. This kind of garden can help you create many a delicious dish – for example, a hearty chicken and vegetable broth are one of our staples.

Where did it start? Find out more about starting your herb garden, choose the right set up for you, and tips on what you might like to grow in your garden.

Jessica Meier

Jessica Meier

Garden fairy / mother of 2... also, I like to cook :)

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