Turn your patio into a kitchen garden with these 5 essential herbs

Even the smallest patio or deck can accommodate a kitchen garden, giving you access to delicious homegrown herbs and vegies throughout the year. To get you started, here are 5 essential herbs that are a must for any kitchen garden.

1. Rosemary

Rosemary bush in flower in morning sunshine

Rosemary is one of those herbs that has multiple culinary uses, looks beautiful all year ‘round, and is also good for you. It’s available in a number of different varieties, including a prostrate grower that is great for a hanging basket or vertical garden, and does extremely well in a pot. Find a sunny position on your patio or deck for your rosemary and water once or twice a week, but make sure the pot is well-drained as, being a Mediterranean plant, it really doesn’t like wet feet. Once your rosemary bush is established, use it liberally on BBQ meats or vegies, or add it to dressings and sauces for its delicious lemony-pine flavor.

2. Thyme

Thyme herb in terracotta pot grown outdoors

Thyme is another hardy Mediterranean herb that prospers in a sunny position and likes a well-drained pot or container. Like rosemary, it has a long list of culinary uses and medicinal applications, and its delicate white flowers are good for attracting bees and other pollinators. There are lots of different varieties to choose from, including lemon, silver and English thyme, all with their own distinctive flavour and scent. Thyme goes well in soups and sauces, and with mushrooms and lamb, to name just a few of the dishes this handy herb can accompany.

3. Parsley

Plants of parsley. Young seedling growing in pot. Fresh and green parsley in the spring.

You can never have enough parsley; it’s one of those fundamentals for any herb garden and, luckily, it will grow almost anywhere. Move the pot to a slightly shady position during the hotter months, to prevent the parsley bolting to seed, and water regularly. That said, allowing a couple of plants to go to seed and re-sowing will ensure you have a good supply of parsley all year ‘round. Use in everything from a green smoothie to pasta sauce, to the summery delights of tabbouleh and bean salad. Parsley is high in vitamin C and K, and is also a good source of iron and folic acid. Basically, it’s a wonder plant and you can never eat (or grow) too much of it.

4. Sage

common sage, Salvia officinalis

The herb sage is part of the salvia family and, when in flower, has similarly beautiful blooms, with the colour dependent on the type of sage you have. Like many herbs, it prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil in a sunny spot. Sage, in particular, will turn up its toes if its roots get too wet, so make sure you don’t over water it, which is easy to do with pot plants. Always test the dampness of the soil with your finger before watering; your sage will reward you with healthy, happy foliage and bee-attracting flowers in spring and summer. As for culinary uses, a little sage goes a long way, due to its strong flavour. It’s great with mushrooms, garlic, or in a stuffing for chicken or turkey. On the BBQ, use it in a marinade for pork or in a sauce for sausages.

5. Chives

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) in glorious pink flower to brighten any herb garden, focus and light on one flower in the bunch.

Chives are a delightful and useful addition to your herb garden; they look gorgeous when in flower and you can use them in a huge range of dishes, from fish, chicken and vegies, to salads and sandwiches. Chives are particularly good on baked potatoes with sour cream and as a garnish on smoked salmon and cream cheese. As with parsley, let your chives go to seed and re-sow them, and you’ll have a constant supply.

These are just 5 of the many herbs that will grow well on a patio or deck with a little bit of preparation and attention. And, once you’ve got your herb garden going, think about planting some other edibles that do well in pots, such as leafy greens or chillies. Before you know it, your patio will be a bountiful source of healthy, homegrown goodness.

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