A Fire Escape Herb Garden


Fire Escape Herb Garden in August

Fire Escape Herb Garden in August

Naysayers, I know it’s illegal. But, in case of fire, toss the pots and run.

Everyone else, I thought you might like to see what can grow in a 3′ X 3′ space fire escape in the city.

This year, there is spearmint, chives, flat parsley, lemon grass, Italian oregano, culinary thyme, rosemary, Genovese sweet basil, spicy globe basil, morning glory, nasturtium, euphorbia, a dwarf Japanese maple tree, and self-seeded red-orange impatiens and a heirloom black cherry-tomato. The mint and chives reappear every year.

At the risk of sounding like Martha Stewart, I love cooking with fresh herbs. Yum, flavor! Yippee, disease-fighting antioxidants! And a way to use less salt. Here’s a little Guide to Using Fresh Herbs from the Cooperative Extension offices at the Universities of Nebraska and New Jersey (Rutgers), your tax dollars at work.

At my place August means it’s all-pesto-all-the-time (add a little lemon to keep it green) and Insalata Caprese, as well as mint syrup in beverages, rosemary vinegar, and assorted herbs in every salad, stew and roasted dish.

Your thoughts, How do you cook with fresh herbs?

An Herb Garden Grows in Brooklyn


The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is like my backyard. I live that close. This week, I am enjoying the Herb Garden, a wildly lush kitchen garden like none you’ve never seen. The Herb Garden’s annual beds are planted with regional crops we know as food from around the world. The plants reflect the cultural diversity and culinary traditions of Brooklyn. Today’s round-the-world tour takes in The Americas, North, South and Middle, displaying corn (maize), squash and sunflowers; The Fertile Crescent and Sub-Saharan Africa, with millet, sorghum, soba (buckwheat) and okra; Southeast Asia abundant in basil and hot peppers; and the Northern Mediterranean region abounding with artichokes, herbs and beets. Then there are the medicinal herbs, echinacea and bee balm, and the ever-present kale. And this is just a bit of what’s happening. The warm weather crops, tomatoes, peppers eggplant and corn, are not ready to harvest. I hope I don’t disappoint the curator. Enjoy the tour. (Click on the pictures to enlarge.)

Your thoughts: Do you have a favorite botanic garden?