Today I would just like to go through all those delightfully fragrant culinary herbs that are so easy to grow both in the garden or on a terrace. I am frequently reminded by readers that it is all very well to talk about ‘gardening’ but probably a far greater proportion of readers live in apartments with no access to a garden just the more reduced space of a balcony or terrace.
To keep everyone happy lets look at what can be grown in all spaces available by starting with a tree !!!
A Bay Tree grows happily in a pot and can look really nice kept cut to a neat round standard size with the odd leaf always on hand to flavour the cooking pot. Left to its own in the garden you may well find it self seeds all over the place and even provided a safe shelter for the birds to build their nests, as well as growing into a fairly mature tree.
Now I will mention the subject of space because that is another balcony consideration.
A tower built of stacked flower pots can serve several purposes, admittedly they do look better if all the pots are of the same colour and starting with the largest at the bottom, once filled with soil and stacked one on top of the other you will be surprised just how many different herbs can be planted.
Think first of the bottom pot that probably won´t need replanting for several years if you put cuttings of Rosemary all around the rim, leaving a little space settle the next sized pot on top of the soil. Here again, planting up Sage cuttings you have a herb that will last for years. It has a different coloured green and very different textured leaves which makes for a delightful contrast.
And so you continue with the next size down, here I would suggest Mint. No kitchen is complete without a few sprigs of mint and that never worries itself about having its root system tightly packed in a pot.
Now we come to the annuals, I am all for purchasing the little pots from the supermarkets that are frequently available at about one euro and has a good handful of small seedlings just ready to be transplanted.
Here we may well find Parsley, Marjoram, Coriander and Sweet Basil . These smaller pots can be easily upended to replace with something different each season. Top it all off with something of a different texture just for the fun of it. Chives will produce a spiky grass like texture and will be easy to cut off what is needed to sprinkle on a potato salad for example.
Something quite different to top it all off could be a Dill or Fennel which have yet another texture with their feathery leaves and will grow quite tall.
There you have the whole collection of fresh herbs in the space of one large plant pot cascading with greenery all the way down. To make the whole tower a little more stable it doesn’t hurt to push a sturdy long support through the drainage hole into the pot below it and so on until several pots are anchored together. An old thick knitting needle could well do the trick and two of these will secure some of the pots that by this time will be standing nearly three feet tall.
All of this will of course need frequent watering and a good large drip tray to stand it in and on the practical side any of the herbs you may want to add to your cooking, all in the space of one plant pot, that of course I will leave to Andrew Valente on his food page to tell you what herbs to add to which dishes.
Now to some of the more serious gardening jobs, we are told its the time to graft some of what are considered the ‘hard wood’ trees mentioning for example Oranges, Apple, Fig trees Almond and Olives. This of course is a very professional task but needs to be done in some cases so why not try it and learn something new if you have not already embarked on that sort of gardening.
Putting hardwood cuttings into pots to encourage them to take root is something else, but for some people it is a hobby and fun to watch miniature trees evolve. Yes there is always something new or surprising to be found in a garden.