An­nu­als

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES -

While Van­stone’s en­try into the ed­i­bles mar­ket will mainly have em­pha­sis on pot­ted tomato and pep­per va­ri­eties, to­gether with a wider rang­ing va­ri­ety of herbs, the goal is to also pro­vide home­own­ers with all the in­for­ma­tion they need to grow plants in pa­tio con­tain­ers or back­yard veg­gie plots. Their new in­vest­ment in­cludes de­tailed plant tags and a new web­site (fresh­plants.ca), with grow­ing in­for­ma­tion as well as recipes. Mix-and-match choices in­clude cu­tand-come-again salad greens such as Al­fresco Mix with the Mediter­ranean flavours of red and green leaf let­tuces such as arugula, en­dive and radic­chio for en­joy­ing all sum­mer long with re­peat har­vests. Herbs are beau­ti­ful com­ple­ments to flow­er­ing an­nu­als, pro­vid­ing unique tex­ture, colour and scent. The new herb line in­cludes 13 dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of basil, in­clud­ing African Blue with a sweet cam­phor scent and pur­plish-blue flower spikes and Emer­ald Frills and Ruby Frills with their dis­tinc­tive ruf­fled fo­liage and spicy flavour. Dress­ing up your con­tainer de­signs with herbs adds a prac­ti­cal el­e­ment be­yond the prospect of snip­ping and dry­ing them for your favourite recipes. Herbs have long been used by gar­den­ers as a nat­u­ral de­ter­rent for pests. Oregano, for ex­am­ple, can be planted next to squash and cu­cum­bers to keep away squash bugs and bee­tles.

The volatile oils in basil help to re­pel pests such as thrips, mak­ing it a good com­pan­ion for toma­toes. Cat­nip ( Nepeta cataria) is par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive at de­ter­ring flea bee­tles, squash bugs and ants. And cats, too. A va­ri­ety called Le­mony cat­nip has medic­i­nal ben­e­fits for peo­ple, act­ing as a seda­tive when it is in­fused into tea just be­fore bed­time. Monarda, a peren­nial num­ber­ing nu­mer­ous hardy cul­ti­vars, iden­ti­fies it­self as an herb with its strong spicy scent that makes it an ideal plant for the peren­nial bor­der. An ex­cel­lent sub­sti­tute for mar­jo­ram or oregano when the above ground or aerial parts are dried and then coarsely ground, monarda is also said to pro­mote good di­ges­tion. An ex­cit­ing new monarda va­ri­ety for 2015 is the new com­pact and early flow­er­ing (June to July) Balmy se­ries from Dar­win, with colours rang­ing from lilac to pur­ple and pink or rose. At only 15 to 30 cm tall, this new dwarf se­ries has ex­cel­lent re­sis­tance to mildew. Another new in­tro­duc­tion, Cherry Pops monarda, part of the Su­gar Buzz se­ries, is taller at 50 cm. Monarda thrives in full sun but can also be grown in par­tial shade. Apart from its culi­nary value, monarda, also known as bee balm or berg­amot, has an added bonus: Deer and rab­bits don’t like its taste. Spic­ing up pa­tio con­tain­ers with a mix of veg­gies, herbs, and flow­er­ing an­nu­als adds a new di­men­sion to gar­den­ing in small spa­ces. If you have the ad­van­tage of more space to work with, why not rein­vent the tra­di­tional veg­gie gar­den by trans­form­ing it into your own pri­vate potager. Pro­nounced puh-ta-zhay, it sim­ply refers to a kitchen gar­den, that prac­ti­cal and an­cient rem­nant where the keeper of the stove, or open fire if you will, sourced fresh cook­ing in­gre­di­ents con­sist­ing of herbs, veg­eta­bles, fruits and ed­i­ble flow­ers. With ori­gins in French gar­dens, from the hum­blest to the most spec­tac­u­larly de­fined, the ad­di­tion of a back­yard potager would make any vis­i­tor

VAN­STONE FRESH

What’s home­made soup with­out fresh dill? Good for your di­ges­tion, this com­pact va­ri­ety of dill called Fern­leaf is per­fect for pa­tio con­tain­ers. Sturdy stems need no stak­ing. Har­vest seeds and leaves. Use fresh, frozen and dried for great flavour all

year long.

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