Whether you want to know where your food is coming from, combat higher food prices of just go hyper-local, growing produce and flowers in your very own backyard is the way to go.
1/ CHOOSE FLAVOURFUL HERBS
Plant fresh herbs like basil, lemon verbena, creeping thyme, chervil and chives to add depth to dishes. For the ultimate salad combine home grown arugula, lettuce and kale with a lemon-honey-herb vinaigrette (think Green Goddess). In fact, curries, salads, marinades and pizza just call out for a citrusy basil variety.
High Mowing Organic Seeds Lemon Basil, $3.25 (USD); highmowingseeds.com
2/ DIY AT-HOME TEA INFUSIONS
You can make your own home-grown tea infusions with mint, American saffron, or monarda (bee balm).
3/ DON’T NEGLECT FLOWERS
Many vegetables and fruit benefit from nearby flowers. Treat flowers as a crop and you can have your very own cutting garden. Add home grown blooms to a tablescape or arrangement. Or, grow your own hanging basket from seed for that shady garden spot. Renee’s Garden Windowbox Lobelia Blue Heaven; reneesgarden.com
4/ USE THE WHOLE VEGETABLE
When you grow-your-own cook with the whole vegetable (beets for example) – roots, stalk, leaves and all.
5/ OPT FOR A LIGHTWEIGHT AND ECO-FRIENDLY GROW BAG
Unlike some felt, jute is derived from plant fibres and can be composted once worn out. These large bags are an eco-friendly way to grow potatoes or tomatoes without lugging heavy pots around. Burnaby Bag & Burlap Jute Potato Bag, 50L and 100 L; burnabybag.ca
6/ MAKE ARRANGEMENTS LAST
Make flowers last longer in an arrangement by laying them in lukewarm water overnight. Droopy flowers will come to life when stems are plunged in hot water for 10-30 seconds (the woodier the stem the longer they need).
7/ GROW SOMETHING BELOVED & FAMILIAR
Incredibly delicious and nutritious salad leaf with beautiful frilly leaves. High Mowing Organic Seeds Frisee Endive, $3.25 (USD); highmowingseeds.com
8/ GROW SOMETHING EXOTIC & UNFAMILIAR
Crunchy Japanese green dubbed land seaweed, accentuated taste when drawing from salty soil. West Coast Seeds Salsola, $3.29; westcoastseeds.com
9/ CONSIDER SCENT AND MOONLIGHT
A moonlight garden incorporates white and silver foliage and flowers which reflect the shimmering moon or release their fragrance at night, or both. Think nicotiana, jasmine and calla lilies. Moonflower is another stunner with saucer-blooms that waft scent in the cool of the evening. Renee’s Garden Heirloom Flowering Vine Fragrant Moonflower; reneesgarden.com
10/ WHAT IS A GARDEN WITHOUT A TOMATO?
An obvious choice for tomatoes, this feed is also great for tomatoes cucumbers, eggplant and clematis. Home Hardware NATURA 5-7-7 Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer, 1.2kg, $8.77; homehardware.ca
11/ GROW SOMETHING NEW
Every year, try to grow something new just for the challenge. Base your choice on colour, shape, variety or to offset what is already thriving. For impact set these sunny orbs against purples in dry or fresh arrangements. High Mowing Organic Seeds Sunball Craspedia $3.25 (USD); highmowingseeds.com
12/ GROW SOMETHING NEW
Raise your hand if you’re a proud plant parent. Even if you live in a small space, or think you don’t have a green thumb, caring for a small plant can lift your mood, especially when you don’t have the chance to walk through a tropical park or garden.
Here are three of the most popular house plants we that we love and that are super easy to care for:
>Monstera (aka “Swiss cheese plant”): Stereotypical tropical; add high drama with large green leaves, with holes in them. Make you feel like you’re in Hawai’i, at home.
> Anthurium this tropical beauties with bright red leaves requires frequent watering and thrive in moist soil. (Flamingo plant assorted colors, 4 inch; $12.99)
> Sansevierias/Snake Plant (aka “Mother in Law’s tongue”): Spiky, tall leaves often with three shades of green on the leaves. Adds architectural interest to small spaces.
> Succulents are ideal for small spaces, and offices. They require little watering, ideally once a month and a warm spot. (Ikea zebra plant, moonglow, and echeveria, 2.5 inch, $4.99)
> If all else fails, try an Air Plant: No need for dirt, soak the plants in water for a few hours, every 10 days. These spiny, alien-like plants add interest.
*tip: Many people overwater, thinking that they are actually doing their plant good, but in reality, most house plants don’t actually require that much careful attention. (We love Ikea SALLADSKÅL Watering can, indoor/outdoor off-white that holds 9L of water, $39.99; and INGEFÄRA Plant pot with saucer, outdoor terracotta, 12.5 inch; $32.99)
This original article first appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.