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Urban veggie patch: Best herbs to grow in the city

Urban farming: Best herbs to grow in the city

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 Grow food anywhere

 Once you experience the joys of a homegrown harvest, it’s hard to go back to the packaged supermarket stuff. Food simply tastes better when you grow it yourself and having a small space doesn’t mean that you can’t have a garden. You’d be surprised at how many plants, fruits, vegetables and herbs you can harvest from pots sitting by the windowsill.

Growing is something that everybody can do no matter your location, ideology, origin or experience. It doesn’t have to be a crazy, difficult task - Start with what works for you. The garden is what you make of it, whatever you are comfortable with and whatever you want to get out of it.

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 Grow what you like to eat

You can grow what you like to eat but try things you don’t like as well – you might be surprised how good something tastes when you grow it yourself.

Whether you are rejecting the modern system of over-fertilized, intensively farmed, mass-produced food or you just want to experiment with more diversity than what’s available at the conventional supermarket, there’s never a bad time to start learning and start growing.

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What plants need

Sunlight, soil and water are three fundamentals all plants need to thrive. Sunlight on their leaves for photosynthesis, soil from which to derive nutrition and water – the basic building blocks of all living things which pumps life through a plant’s veins. Fulfilling those requirements goes a long way towards growing happy, healthy plants.

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The best thing about growing herbs

Fresh herbs cost a lot to buy but they are very easy to grow and can be continually harvested. If you’re tired of paying $3 for a small pack of herbs to only use one sprig and throw the rest away, try spending $3 on a plant or buying the seeds and growing the plant yourself. A bit of care goes a long way and you’ll be rewarded with a continual harvest of fresh herbs.

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Advantages on growing herbs in pots

Pots can offer a cost-effective starting point as well as being a space-efficient option to growing in small spaces. They can sit on window sills, balconies or kitchen benches and they allow for the importation of a good quality growing medium, that is potting mix. There are many different types of pots to choose from with lots of aesthetics and they offer excellent drainage (just remember to get the pots with a hole on the bottom).

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 Our top picks for easy herbs to grow in small spaces

Rosemary

A woody, perennial herb with fragrant, needle-like leaves. It grows well in pots and you can keep it near your kitchen window for an easy-reach herb patch, handy for a last minute sprig for cooking or to help flavor grilled meats and potatoes. Frequent harvesting will help to keep your plant bushy and full and will delay flowering. If you’re looking to dry your stems, gather them from spring to late summer.

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Thyme

A Mediterranean herb which has a piney and peppery taste with bitter, slightly lemony and minty notes. It has a herbaceous and slightly floral aroma and is used for culinary, medicinal and ornamental uses. Regular harvesting will promote further growth. Pairs well with sage and rosemary for roasted and grilled meats, it’s often used in stocks and stews and an essential component of the bouquet garni and herbes de Provence that are often used in Italian cooking.

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Mint

A fragrant perennial with toothed leaves, mint is fast-growing with a fruity, aromatic taste. As well as being a good kitchen companion, they are also used for air fresheners and herbal medicines. They’re beautiful s they are functional and foolproof to grow in thriving sun. It’s known for being a vigorous spreader so a confined areas such as containers work well. Mint complements fruits, vegetables, meats, iced teas and let’s not forget the almighty mojito.

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Oregano

Oregano is a culinary and medicinal herb from the mint family. Gather sprigs as you need and gather stems for drying in early summer (just before the plants bloom). Oregano loves the sun and full, strong sun will help keep its strong, signature flavor that is commonly used in Italian, Mexican and Spanish dishes. Oregano leaves are oval, dark green with some varieties producing fuzzy leaves.

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Bay leaf

They bay leaf is a lovely evergreen small tree or shrub, perfect for small containers. Its aromatic leaves have long been used for cooking. The aromatic flavor of bay leaves are used to round off soups, gravies, fish and meat dishes or to marinate meats. It can also be used in pickling. Add the whole leaf while cooking and remove it before serving. You can use fresh or dried leaves.

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Parsley

Parsley has a delicious and vibrant taste with wonderful healing properties. The types of parsley used most commonly in the kitchen are flat leaf parsley, Italian parsley, curly leaf parsley and Hamburg parsley. It’s a biennial herb but also grown as an annual. To promote growth, pick the dead and faded leaves from time to time to help keep your plant in shape.

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Basil

One of the tastiest herbs to grow, basil is attractive and easy to grow. The most common type of basil grown in the home veggie patch is ‘sweet basil’. It doesn’t like the cold and it needs to receive at least four hours of direct sun (preferable 6-8 hours) each day in order to thrive. It tastes great in Italian dishes, can be used to make homemade pesto and it’s the tomato’s best friend and they make great garden neighbors.

 

Monica Limanto