Last year, after moving into my condo, I had big plans to have a pretty little garden on my itsy-bitsy balcony. Inadvertently summer had come and gone before I got around to making my dream a reality. Sigh.
This year I was determined! Sometimes perfect action is better than inaction. So, I set to it and bought a beautiful bounty of fresh herbs and plants from the local Parkdale Market on a sunny late-spring day. I eventually bought resin containers from Loblaws, keeping in mind that once the season comes to an end, I want to easily store them in my storage-locker until next spring. The idea of heavy, breakable planters did not seem viable for my current living situation. This is something you may want to keep in mind.
I kept my garden theme quite simple - everything is edible: a plethora of herbs; curly-leaf kale; rainbow Swiss chard; and violas.
I wanted to grow kale and chard because I use these ingredients rather frequently whether or in juice, in salads, or as vegetable side-dishes. An awesome characteristic of growing kale and chard: it keeps growing and growing. Some lettuce, for example, is a one shot plant. You plant it and pick-it. And, it's done. With kale and chard, you pluck/harvest the outer leaves and the plant will grow more nutritious leaves. Kale has a long life and will grow through frost even - through to November in some cases. More yummy details on how to grow and harvest kale found here!
Herbs are full of antioxidant-rich and chlorophyll- rich sources making them a joy to use wherever and whenever possible. There truly is something magical about using homegrown herbs in cooking... Everything just tastes astronomically better.
The reason for which I chose violas is because they, like pansies, are full of colour and edible and they are cold-tolerant making them awesome from early-spring through to late fall. It's not often that I use ice in drinks, but when I do, I enjoy making decorative ice. Place half an ice-cube tray full of water with a single viola or pansy. Let it freeze and add more water. The viola or pansy will be frozen in the centre of the ice-cube. When I was a about nine years old, my mom taught me to do this and it has a way of always brings me back to childhood summers. This ice looks particularly beautiful in a pitcher of water that could be infused with garden basil and/or mint, cucumber, and lemon for a refreshing and aesthetically pleasing glass of water! The violas make a beautiful garnish on summer salads also.
Perhaps you too are determined to have a plot of flowers and or veggies. If you have considered having a garden - big or small - there is still time this season. Most garden centres will taper their season before the beginning of July. Check with your local nurseries as they may have a prolonged season. This past weekend marked Summer Solstice with the longest day of the year... I trust that this infers that the sun and warmth are more decided on sticking around for a while; rather than repeatedly teasing us. So, why not make a go of it and treat yourself to the beauty of something that will grow and taste marvellous?
Next year: I will aspire to grow my veggies from organic, non-GMO seeds...
Be good to you.