Setting Up Herb Farm in Australia
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Luke Turner
Posted on: November 28, 2006

I’m starting up a small herb farm and was hoping you could give me some advice regarding the initial setup required. I have taken cuttings from lemon thyme plants and are raising them in seed raising potting mix in seedling trays. I live on the East Coast of Australia near Byron Bay.

What percent shade cloth is recommended for the shadehouse I am building for the cuttings? When the cuttings are ready to plant I am planning on growing them in plastic lined sand beds approx. 4ft wide x 3 inches deep x 30ft long. The beds will be outside with retractable covers made for the winter months. Is all of this suitable?

The percentage of shade depends on the intensity of sunlight in your area. We like 70% shade cloth in the summer months while in winter we may not use shade at all. Try a 50% cloth to start with and then adjust as needed.

The sand beds will work fine. Sand is an excellent rooting medium. However, we no longer use sand because it is harder to handle than other media. We prefer to root our plants in plug flats filled with a good soilless medium that drains well. Flats are easily moved as needed. A further advantage is that the flat system means that the rooting medium is always new and never reused. There is a tendency to reuse sand and that invites the buildup of pathogens.

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