Make the Most of Your Outdoor Patio with an Herb Garden

Growing edible gardens aren’t just confined to country acreages. Even a townhome patio can flourish with an easy container garden that looks good enough to eat.

You’ll be chowing down on delicious organic flavors year after year, with many species of flavourful plants re-seeding and surviving to see another spring, says Priscilla Unger, hobby organic grower and GM at Hunter Residential Developments. 

Eating greens is healthy, but colorful flowers are a lesser-known trick to bring the beautiful bounty from planters onto platters. Unger keeps edible flowers blooming in humble buckets close the kitchen so they can make their way to salad plates, and can be seen through windows.

“Chive blossoms, nasturtiums, pansies – they all grow easily in pots right outside my door,” she says.

“Things like chives are brilliant – they have a lot of flavour punch when you snip them and add to your potatoes – whether stuffed or baked,” says Unger, adding that even the purple blossom is sweet looking yet presents a mild onion flavour.

Nasturtiums grow nicely in pots, and their unique pepper-plus-mustard flavour can be the basis of a dressing or condiment for dipping pretzels, she says.

Containers are ideal for plants that have a tendency to take over, so townhome dwellers are at an advantage for keeping their deck-top crops from becoming an unmanageable nuisance, she adds.

“Pansies will pop up everywhere every year. They are edible and look beautiful in a salad,” Unger says, adding would-be flower chefs should stick to organic flowers meant for consumption versus those for display that could have chemicals fertilizers sprayed on them before they arrive at stores.

Fitting for a terrace, front step, window sill, or anywhere there’s natural light, container gardens can be seen in the outdoor living spaces of any sized piece of real estate including townhomes.

Whether you’re in Leduc or Airdire, Alberta – both regions are friendly places for growing herbs and a flourishing crop of green, purple and yellow. Homeowners at the Rushes of Southfork and Latitude 51 also benefit from full sunlight with wind protection on glass-railing decks.

Consider these herbs for your own container garden and make the most of your outdoor patio at the Rushes of Southfork or Latitude51.

  • Chives are a plant that is very tough to kill. They also self-seed but grow very slowly.
  • Oregano. A staple of Italian recipes, create a fresh taste in sauces and more.
  • Mint. Add mojo to your mojito. This is an easy plant to grow, and crushing the leaves in your fingertips release its yummy scent. Mint is the perfect plant to be confined to a pot, as it loves to spread out, and can take over a regular garden.
  • Tarragon will come back after year one, and when whipped into your butter adds a salty aromatic foundation for a crisp cucumber sandwich. 
  • Thyme is available in several varieties, some culinary and some ornamental. Be sure to pick one for your townhome deck that’s for eating.
  • Basil loves heat. In a pot move it around the deck to be sure it most sun and heat. Bring inside if evenings are going to be cool.
  • Cilantro is yummy for many recipes from Mexican to Vietnamese, but goes to seed quickly so buy seeds to start and re-sow every few weeks. 
  • Dill - also easy to grow from seed and brightens a poached egg. 
  • Parsley - easy to grow goes-with-anything herb and fairly cold-tolerant.
  • Nasturtiums cheerful yellow flowers taste like mustard and pepper, and can be grown as climbers on trellises or as bushy plants in a container.
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