If you have a deck or terrace with some sun, you can grow the following 10 herbs and vegetables. Having a pot of these herbs near your kitchen will encourage you to use them regularly. The fresh ones are infinitely better than the dried.
Many of them are actually easier to grow in containers. The first four are Mediterranean plants often found growing wild beside a road or path in the warmer parts of Europe. They will grow without any attention on your part other than a slug of water every now and then. In fact, withholding water concentrates the oils and makes them more flavorful.
The mint is best grown in a container; given a chance it will take over your garden.
- Parsley – will need to be periodically replanted, not too often if you keep it sniped
- Salad greens
- Scallions or chives
Yes, you can grow arugula and other salad greens in pots. They will need regular water to taste their best. Without it they will wilt, become bitter and generally unappealing. If you have to be away for a period of time, I have some ideas that will help keep your garden healthy until you return. Look for another post coming soon.
Having lettuce near your kitchen will encourage you to snip the leaves for wonderful salads. You can either pinch off the outer leaves when they are of the size you want, or cut the entire plant back about an inch above the soil line. The plant will come back for a second or even third time, it’s called cut-and-come-again. The salads from these greens are infinitely better than those from even the finest grocery store. Plus, you can grow exactly the type of lettuce you want. Those commercial mesclun mixes always have too many spinach leaves for my taste. Seed catalogs are full of beautiful lettuces and lettuce mixes. Cooks Garden is famous for their mesclun; take a peak at the varieties available in their on-line catalog.
Radishes are easy to grow, too easy! I find that I forget about them unless they are front and center. My first gardening failure was in my grandparent’s garden when I was 9. I was excited when my grandfather gave me some radish seeds to plant. However, I immediately forgot about them until they were overgrown, woody, and way too hot to eat. Believe me I’ve had lots of failures since! So, put them in a container where you can watch them every time you pass by and pull them up when ready. In France radishes are a favorite starter with a crisp baguette, unsalted butter, and flaked sea salt on the side. I particularly like the French breakfast variety.
Scallions or chives will grow well in a pot. Having them close to the kitchen will encourage you to snip a bit to use with eggs, or salads, or as a fancy garnish. You can grow chives from a transplant, or from seeds. Your plant may die back in the winter but will come back in the spring. The flowers, pulled apart, are beautiful added to a salad. Scallions grow from seed, or even easier, a bunch from the grocery store. Put a bunch, with the rubber band still around them, into a glass with about an inch of water. Change the water every day or two. Once you see the roots growing and new greens on the top, you can plant them into soil. Simply snip off the green portion as needed or pull one up.
If you have herbs planted further away from the kitchen, cut a few sprigs while you are out in the garden. Put them close by in a glass of water (change it every day). If you are sure you won’t forget them (I would), you can cover the glass or jar with a plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator. I like to see them and they add a really nice herby scent to the kitchen, much better than those fancy infusers. I often have glasses of parsley, basil (in season), oregano, and rosemary on my kitchen table; ready to use when I feel creative.