Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Urban Herb Garden

One of the things I was most excited about with the new place was my balcony. Facing the back of the building with a good sized alleyway between the building across the way, it gets great sunlight and a cool breeze. And having a balcony means I can have an herb garden, albeit a small one, as the actual balcony size is pretty small. But I have sunlight, good drainage and good air circulation, all necessities for growing herbs.

So in the past few weeks I've set out to make this dream a reality, researching everything from the types of herbs I wanted, to the places to get them, to planting the right combinations, to the actual planters they'll go in. I settled on a 36" and a 24" CobraCo English Horse Trough balcony planter that hangs over the railing of our balcony to maximize space. Then I was off to get potting soil and herbs. After an unsuccessful trip to Home Depot I did some more in depth yelping research and came up with a hardware store that got kudos for having lots of organic products as well as being pretty economical. Plus it's only 10 blocks or so from my place.
For potting soil I decided on Espoma Organic Potting Mix, good for both indoors and outdoors, as I'm still undecided about what I'll do in the winter. And here are the herbs I got:
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
The planters were $20 (24") and $26 (36") and were a breeze to set up, although I did use some extra ties to keep them securely in place, just in case. The herbs were all $3 a piece and the potting soil was $6 per bag. So in all a project that's cost me less than $80. Not bad for a hobby that will help feed me and Mr. M.
Getting set up
Peeking over at the sage and rosemary
All are herbs I buy from the store most often. Once I get the hang of this I want to try parsley, lavender, maybe some dill and chives. And since we have a large fire escape in addition to the balcony, next summer I might like to try my hand at growing some tomatoes, zucchini and maybe some peppers. So far I haven't noticed any signs of pestilence but if I do I have a few homemade bug spray recipes to try since I want to keep all my food, especially the food I grow, as chemical free as possible. Having an herb garden in the middle of Manhattan, amidst the pollution is enough chemical for me. For now though it's just nice to step out onto my balcony to a plethora of fresh fragrances and be able to snip off some leaves here or there for dinner. I already have a basil pesto recipe to post and right now I'm making pernil with a mojo made from my cilantro and oregano, among other things. So I think it's safe to say it's been a success already!
The basil, post pesto, and oregano

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