Saturday 9 May 2015

Herb Garden 2015

Spring has officially sprung! It was a gorgeous day in Toronto today. Many of the trees in the city are flowering and people are starting their annual gardening, myself included. I don't grow much but I do like to foster some fresh herbs during the warmer months. I took the opportunity today to pick up some sprouts from one of the family-run businesses in my neighbourhood and got to planting. This year I've planted Italian parsley, Genovese basil, Thai basil, mint, thyme, rosemary and some scotch bonnet peppers. 

Every year the crop is a little different. This is the second year that I've decided not to grow cilantro. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the stuff. I have found in the past that cilantro matures and flowers very rapidly (thus ending its life cycle) and it's such a hassle trying to keep the damn thing alive. After a month all that remains is a dry, yellow skeleton among my otherwise healthy herbs. I find it much easier to just buy it when I need it. I usually get oregano, sage and opal basil (which is like Genovese basil, but a deep purple colour) but omitted them this year. They're also fantastic but I found that I don't use them as much as the other varieties. Truth be told, I prefer oregano when it's dried anyway. lol

Last year I planted scotch bonnet peppers for the first time, but unfortunately didn't get any benefit from them. I planted them in a separate pot which I suspect may not have been big enough to properly keep them. They did grow and bear a little fruit, but the peppers start out green before maturing to an orange colour when they're ripe and ready to eat. Some pesky squirrels or raccoons managed to graze on some of the tiny, juvenile green peppers. Scotch bonnets are very hot so they would never be finished and go to waste. Eventually the pests figured out to leave them alone and I had 2 or 3 peppers that looked like they stood a chance. Then one notoriously windy day the pot went flying off the ledge of my patio and down one storey into the back area of the butcher shop next door to my apartment. The pot shattered and the plant died. I was so disappointed. 

I'm hoping for better results with the scotch bonnets (and everything else) this year. Wish me luck. This is always a very exciting ritual. Within a couple of weeks the herbs are going to be big enough to start collecting for my dishes and cocktails. 

I encourage you to grow your own herbs at home. If you don't have somewhere outdoors that you can use, all you need is a window sill that gets plenty of light. It's a great way to add big, fresh flavour to your dishes and saves you money in the long run. Trust me, when you have it and it's there, you use it. What do you have to lose?

Today is also day one of ten consecutive days off work that I have definitely earned and deserve. I've already got some tasty dishes planned so stay tuned...


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