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How to… unleash your green thumb in a rental

If you are a tenant in a rental property, you will probably know that you are not allowed to change or alter the landscape of that property without the landlord’s permission. Unfortunately, this does include gardening, however there are ways to unleash your inner green thumb without breaking your lease. Here are three timesaving, cost-effective and highly transportable ideas.

Succulents in old cups or mugs

Succulents are a great starting point for new gardeners as they are low maintenance, low cost plants that are also pretty forgiving. When it comes to week twelve, when all your major assessments are rolling in and you are doing your best just to maintain acceptable hygiene standards, your succulent will survive a week or two without a drink. It will be thirsty but it will be alive.  Succulents are also a nice decoration for your coffee table, study or balcony and can be planted in old mugs (or teacups if you want to be a bit fancy). You can pick up succulents from your local nursery and then replant them into a cup, placing a little bit of potting mix in the base first  (around 1 cm, but this will vary depending on the size of your succulent and cup).

Herbs on your windowsill or balcony

Herbs are another great starting point for beginning gardeners and are a cost-effective alternative to buying supermarket herbs. Most herbs require at least six hours of sunlight a day so choose a room in your house or a position on your balcony that is exposed to sun for most of the day. If planting your own herbs, get a pot (or another container if you’re feeling creative) which has good drainage and fill this around three quarters full with potting mix. Use the end of a pencil to make a shallow well in the mix. Drop your seeds in (there will be directions on the packet as to how many) and cover back over with potting mix. Water until the potting mix is moist. In subsequent days keep an eye on the potting mix – generally when it starts to look dry or pale, it is time to water again. However, be mindful that most herbs do not like to be too moist. It pays to check the watering requirements on the back of the seed packet along with the particular environment required. To ensure the roots of your plant do not start to rot, use a container that has good drainage and if it’s inside, place something underneath such as a plate to catch excess water. Good herbs to try include basil, parsley and mint.

A vertical garden

This is a great option if you have an outdoor space but need an installation that you can remove when your lease runs out. There are many variations of the vertical garden, ranging from ready-made ones you can buy at a garden centre, through to DIY ones you can make on a lazy weekend out of recycled pallets and black plastic. Regardless of which option you choose, all vertical gardens need to be watered more regularly than plants in garden beds. It is important to remember when watering to water the roots not the leaves. Nutrients are also important for a successful vertical garden, and can be found in composted fruit and veggie scraps or green garden waste.  If your vertical garden is in full shade try growing mint, watercress or violet. If you have an outdoor area with partial sun, lettuce, rocket and silverbeet will be good plants to try. If you are lucky enough to have a sunny patch then cherry tomatoes, rocket and sage will work well.

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