Herb gardens.Posted: October 15, 2011
Do you have a herb garden? I live in Melbourne, which is a climate which gets very cold in Winter and very warm in Summer. For the past couple of years, my husband and I have had a herb garden thriving on our north-facing apartment balcony which we use wherever we can, often adding to our dishes for that delicious home grown flavour, as well as a pile of nutrients. In the picture above you can see my very healthy pot of parsley, my new ‘love birds’ complete with thyme and mint as well as a couple of pots of rosemary and one of lavender in the background (I put the buds into a clear bowl in the bathroom with a candle when we have guests over!) I hope that one day we will be able to have a proper yard where we can grow all sorts of fruit and veggies, similar to that of Meryl Streep’s character in “It’s Complicated”.
I love my herbs, and I love being able to contribute to many meals I make with a bit of home grown goodness! A lot of my friends who also live in apartments or small houses don’t have this set up which I find odd given how easy they are to manage, and the terrific benefits you receive from them. (Apparently food eaten within 5 minutes of picking has much greater nutritional value so it is a healthy bonus to have a bit of fresh garnish whenever you can!). Many herbs are very easy to manage, and if you choose plants that are low maintenance and right for the seasons and your surroundings then you shouldn’t have too much trouble. If you are not sure what would work for you, I have found that a simple exercise is to drive around your neighborhood and check out the types of plants that councils often use for the traffic islands. My logic says that if they can survive all that pollution and hard conditions they must be pretty tough and user friendly for your own garden! But, to start your own I suggest you go to an organic grocer and just see what herbs they have in stock for that time of year. We were given a herb melody pot when we got engaged and I have gradually added to this as time has gone on. The parsley has thrived, but the coriander only lasted a season. Parsley is a biennial plant which means it will return to your garden year after year once it is established.
Do be careful the ones you see aren’t grown in a hot house, but things like parsley and rosemary are hardy and can generally go all year round. Basil is fabulous and flourishing in summer but a bit harder to grow as it and does not like the Winter frost. (I haven’t yet experimented with indoor plants.) In summer you may have a problem deciding which herbs to plant because of the large number of herbs from which to select. If you do want to get into this and perhaps even want to grow some veggies, I have discovered kitchenfarmer.com.au who “design and build abundant home food gardens for any apartment, backyard or property”. Many cookbooks also offer information on uses of various herbs as flavorings and Stephanie Alexanders magnificent book ‘Kitchen Garden’ is a fabulous place to start. Even one small little pot of rosemary will make those roast potatoes taste that much better so why not start your own today? Maybe just start with a pot of parsley. Great for chucking in salads, on top of eggs or for fresh breath!