How does you garden grow?
Weekend gardener: A beginner's guide to growing fresh herbs in an apartmentpatio window box
I abandoned my three flower children in Chicago. I left Rosemary, Hibiscus and Basil behind when I moved to Houston last year. I didn’t think they would survive the trip, but I didn’t think about how much I would miss them.
After mourning my loss over the cold winter months, I’ve found renewed strength with the rising mercury. I’m craving some fresh herbs and a lot more color in my life!
After sourcing Internet blogs, home design magazine and relying on my past experience, I've come up with some great ideas as to how to design my tasteful haven and keep this herb-family growing. A few important factors will impact the design: Space, lighting and available seedlings.
In terms of Houston real estate, my apartment patio is the size of a modest walk-in closet. There is just enough room for a few planters and a few (hopefully drip-and-mess-free) window boxes.
My East-facing balcony means shade will be a driving factor is my design. I want my greens to be both functional and pretty so this will be OK for the herbs and a few shade friendly flowering plants I’m going to raise. My glorious garden will have flora of pink and green and the fragrance of heaven!
I took my friend Martha’s advice and sketched a design of what I wanted the end garden to look like. The key is height in the back and "spill over" from a filler plant in front. Texture is good. With this tangible visual aid in hand, my first stop was Home Depot for planters and seedlings.
Here is my shopping list:
My herbal babies: Basil, Cilantro, Chives, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage
My flower children: Coleus, Impatients, Begonias
My wild child: Strawberry
As you may know, life rarely turns out as Martha suggests. I came home with a few un-named flower children and a few more wild childs. Add Cherry Tomato and Cucumber to the latter list. I'm still not sure what kind of flowers I picked up. Sometimes it comes down to a gut feeling, "This is pretty," and, "I will take this on as an experiment." I reminded myself to remain detached from its colorful leaves and buds.
Sunday was full of messy planting, followed by immediate use of the mint for frozen mint martinis and cilantro for enchiladas verses. This spring and summer I'm looking forward to elevated fresh food creations including pizza, pasta, salads, pestos, roast chicken, and more. I can't wait to see these babies grow so I can eat them up. Cheers to my new green space in the sky!
Here's my Skinny Mint Martini recipe, adapted from Food Network Magazine with the flavors and flourish of South Beach.
1/2 lime (just the juice)
1 packet of Splenda
5 mint leaves
2 cucumber slices (no skin, no seeds)
ice and vodka to taste
Throw it all in a blender and you know what to do: pour in your most fantastic tumbler. Now that's a refreshing breath of fresh spring air.