Spring has sprung and that means it is time for us all to get back into the garden, discover what has made it through the winter, what has not and begin planting for a new season of growth. Ever dream of that perfect kitchen garden, full of all the ingredients you need right outside your door – fresh and ready to be picked and combined at a moment’s notice? We, may not all be able to have this dream garden however with just a little planning and planting these five easy to find favorites – you can make this your tastiest summer ever!
#1 Basil :
My first pick and one of my favorite herbs is basil. Basil is easy to grow in most parts of the country and can be grown from seed or you can find small plants in your local nursery, grocery store or farmer’s market. Basil plants like to be in the sunshine, although they don’t like severe heat and during the summer in warmer climates it can get a little too hot for them to consistently produce quality leaves. Consider planting basil either in the ground or in a container on your patio. Basil cannot standup to frost, so make sure you are well into your frost free temperatures when planting it outside.
Uses: It is a very versatile herb – you can use it for pesto, serve it with tomatoes and mozzarella for a Caprese salad and it also tastes delicious muddled in cocktails.
#2 Mint :
Number two on my list is Mint. Super easy to grow, mint likes it warm and drier side, so it’s great for container gardening or a sunny garden. It is a vigorous grower – consider what you’re planting it with because it likes to spread its legs and take over the space it is given. There are several different varieties of mint, feel free to combine them but mark them with a garden stake – chocolate, lemon, spearmint, peppermint and on and on.
Uses: Pick the leaves to make Mojitos when a neighbor stops by, a batch of ice cream, use as a garnish on various desserts or as a hidden ingredient to brighten the flavors in many main dish recipes.
#3 Chives :
I suggest you direct sow chive seeds into your garden or in a container filled with organic soil. If you are lucky enough the first season, they will produce a purple flower which is fantastic in salads – if not you will have them for the following season. If your plant produces in abundance, use scissors to cut it up at the end of the growing season and dry it for use in the winter.
Uses: Chop Chives right into a salad, on baked potatoes or Sunday morning omelets – their uses are almost unlimited.
#4 Edible Flowers :
Edible flowers come in a variety of sizes shapes, flavors and colors – plant whichever variety you feel will grow well in your climate or pick up a variety seed pack and sprinkle them around your herbs to see what takes. A few of my favorite are Chives, Nasturtiums, Sage and Borage. If you haven’t planted them before you will not be disappointed – if you have, try growing a new variety this year.
Uses: Edible flowers are amazing in cocktails, salads or to quickly dress up a serving plate.
#5 Citrus Tree :
Number five on my list is a little bit of a wild card but well worth it – plant a citrus tree. Most citrus trees require bright sun and warm temperatures which make them ideal for large containers that can be moved indoors in the cooler months or transferred to a greenhouse to winter over. Whether you decide on a lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit select your favorite, find a warm sunny spot and watch as it produces first fragrant blooms then fruits. Depending on the variety you choice the leaves may also be added into recipes for flavoring or on platters to add color to your display.
Uses: Savor theme in cocktails, marinades or salad dressings
Whether you plant all five or start with just one, you are on your way to that dream kitchen garden and your tastiest summer ever – cheers.