Planting out a backyard with a vegetable or herb garden is a healthier and more sustainable choice and can be a very exciting and satisfying experience, especially after you utilise your first ‘harvest’ in your salads or marinade.

Edible flowers are more than just a garnish; many contain unique and enticing flavours and aromas, which can be used to enhance a wide range of sweet and savoury dishes. Nasturtiums are ideal for salads, adding a peppery taste and fresh burst of colour. Add violas, snapdragons, cornflowers and carnations to desserts, pastries, sorbets, cakes, chocolate or nut dishes for an added splash of colour and flavour.

Edible Garden

Nothing compares to the fresh taste of home grown herbs in your cooking, while adding complexities of flavours to your BBQ, casseroles and salads. There is little wastage because you only pick or cut what you require and you don’t need a huge vegetable patch, just start off with just a few pots, until your confidence grows.

Location is the key. The site needs to be accessible, but also sunny. This can be achieved easily through the clever use of pots, to maximise space and save your back.

Perhaps start with some of the more hardy types such as Mediterranean herbs- rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano as these herbs can tolerate drought. Rosemary and thyme grow well together,as their needs are identical and the ever present thyme flowers are attractive to bees. Thai basil (below) a favourite in Asian cuisine and Oregano essential in tomato based sauces both love full sun, relatively dry soil and are prolific growers and need little attention to thrive.

Thai Basil

Herbs with large more delicate leaves such as mint, parsley and coriander prefer moist soil and partial shade. Coriander is best planted in the cooler months and can tend to ‘bolt’ or go to seed when the heat of summer arrives.

Herbs as Ground Covers

Herbs are extremely versatile plants and can be used as a ground cover in the garden. Many herbs such as semi prostrate rosemary make excellent ground cover and as they are perennial, last year after year and provide edible green cover that is practical and aesthetically pleasing.

Prostrate Rosemary

Beans and snow peas can be espaliered onto sunny north facing fences or screens. Small citrus like kaffir lime and kumquat have glossy foliage and can be clipped into topiary and both can be used in the kitchen, the former; a must have in SE Asian dishes.

So don’t be afraid to plant some herbs and edible flowers now, they are so easy to grow. And remember you are not limited to planting in pots or raised beds. An old wheelbarrow can do the trick and being a mobile garden can easily ‘chase the sun’.

Wheelbarrow of Strawberries