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
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