Hi Em and Sasha, feel free to post the occasional pic on here too. I think I set the forum up to allow that (famous last words!)
Thanks for the advice about the basil - I'm just going to have to be patient with it
If it has just expired then at least I have enough seeds left to start again. As for the mint, that stuff normally grows like wildfire and I always keep it in a pot away from other herbs because it seems to strangle them. Strangely at this particular house I can't seem to grow the stuff indoors or outdoors - tried growing it in a trough in the garden last year and it was the only herb that failed to sprout. Suspect it's due to the shocking soil quality here (more about that another time maybe), so have now switched to proper potting compost and am hoping for the best.
A friend of mine grows new potatoes in a big bag contraption on his balcony as he has no garden. Asked him about it last week and he says you need something very deep for them to grow in or their roots don't develop properly, he says you can use an old dustbin or container like that. He also says to use seed potatoes not ones from the supermarket, apparently the supermarket ones can have a bad effect on the soil that may last for a few years. I used to grow them myself years ago and they are so much tastier when they're fresh. Have seen some seed potatoes for £1 in Poundland recently, but can't remember what type they were.
It's a real balancing act with some of these crops - I want them tasty and fresh but I also want them for less money than the supermarket. It's really easy to spend a lot more than you save, when you look at seeds, equipment, containers, plant food, pest control etc. It'd be great if we could share gardening bargains on here too.