Oddly enough spring makes me think of food, I love food. This season, in my mind, is all about barbeques, camping, getting together with friends and family and in the centre of all that, there’s food! There’s nothing tastier than a meal made fresh with vegetables and seasonings out of your own backyard! I’ll be the first to admit that I definitely do not have a “green thumb”. It’s not for lack of trying. Every year we plant a vegetable garden in our backyard – well, my husband does the majority of the work. I support him with food and beverages. It’s still considered teamwork right? I do plant my very own herb garden though – yes, all by myself.
Creating your own personal herb garden is simple and contrary to popular belief; you don’t require a substantial piece of property. I like to use a couple of large planters out on my front patio and plant several herbs together. This year though, I’m going to try growing some herbs indoors. I love the idea of having fresh herbs right at arm’s length and the lingering essence they provide.
My inspiration – the beautiful selection of pots and planters featured in our Urban Barn stores right now. Bright colours, neutrals, big or small, there has to be one for you! That being said, if you’re not ready to begin your gardening journey, we also sell several varieties of potted plants that don’t require any care whatsoever. You just can’t eat them.
If you want to give it a try, you can start now but if it’s still too chilly, consider starting the herbs indoors. Below are a few tips for creating your own herb garden, indoors or out:
Location – Indoor, ideal location is in or near a window facing south, most herbs will thrive in unobstructed sunlight. If you don’t have a bright spot, there are several varieties of herbs that don’t mind shade such as mint, chives, parsley and coriander. Outdoors, find your brightest spot and plant these guys – oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, sage and cilantro.
Planting – if from seed, check the expiry date on the package, plant more seeds then you think you need, only few will likely sprout. Select varieties that grow easily. If you’re like me and want instant gratification, purchase your herbs already sprouted. You’ll need only to transfer them with some fresh lean soil into your new pot or planter. Water regularly but make sure there’s good drainage. Easy breezy!!
Selecting a vessel – should be approx. 6-12” deep and 6” diameter for a single plant. 24” diameter is sufficient for 4-5 plants. If the pot doesn’t have drainage then place rocks or marbles in the bottom before planting. This will provide room for the roots to grow without promoting root rot.
Selecting Herbs – chives, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, dill and mint are just a few hearty herbs worthy of growing indoors or out. As mentioned above, some need more sun then others and most are labeled with the basic requirements.
Now I don’t rough it completely. I don’t grow all my herbs from seed – many I buy already sprouted. For me a bit of a head start doesn’t hurt and they’re probably better off considering my lack of “green thumb”. As for my selection, I like to have the basics, those that I can use daily like Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Dill and Parsley. I also tend try something new each year. Last season I grew Lemon Verbena, a refreshing and fragrant plant, it’s as versatile to use as actual lemons! I used it in everything I could, tea, citrus meat marinades, stuffed into fresh fish before grilling – delicious! This year I’m trying Chervil, which is considered to be a gourmet Parsley with slight hint of anise flavor. This should step up my menu a bit. Another favourite of mine is Cilantro. I know so many people who are not fans, I was too, but now I can’t get enough of it. My favourite summer recipe, and I’ll share, is a Strawberry Mango Salsa. This is a one bowl, no fail, crowd pleaser, guaranteed to satisfy!
Strawberry Mango Salsa
2 pints of ripe strawberries
2-3 ripe mangoes
1 large red onion
1 jalapeno pepper (2 if you want a real kick)
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Salt & Pepper to taste
Juice of 2-3 limes
Dice strawberries, mangoes, onion and jalapeno pepper. Combine in a large bowl. Add chopped cilantro and lime juice then season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss, cover and let sit overnight in refrigerator for best flavor. Serve with your favorite tortilla chip or cracker. This salsa is really versatile; you can change it up with additional fruit or hot peppers. It’s also a delicious condiment for grilled fish or pork. Enjoy!