Green onions

Green Onions

Flora Friday featuring green onions!

This week’s Flora Friday post features green onions! What it also known as spring onions and/or scallions. I grew some from bulbs this year and I also regrow the ones I buy from the store! It’s definitely the easiest plant to grow and maintain on my balcony garden.

Scallions aka Allium

Deriving from the genus Allium, spring onions are in the same family as shallots, chives, leeks, and garlic. They are much milder than other onions and can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be used in dishes or as a garnish.

Green onions

How to grow it

The fastest and easiest way to grow green onions is to buy a bunch at the grocery store. Stay with me here. Buy one bunch and you get 2-4 more for free! Just keep the ends with the roots and you have 2 options: grow them in water or in soil. Both options work, but I personally prefer growing them in dirt.

The other way is to buy bulbs and plant them in dirt. They do well in full sun for 6-8 hours a day and in well-drained soil. Bonus is that they take only a couple of weeks to grow!


Thyme

Thyme

Flora Friday featuring thyme!

This week’s Flora Friday post features another herb from my balcony garden, thyme. It’s not a herb I use often, so if it didn’t come in herb planter I bought from Lowe’s, I honestly probably wouldn’t have planted it myself.

Thyme aka Thymus vulgaris

A relative of oregano, this herb is most commonly used for culinary purposes but also has medicinal uses. Used as a fresh or dried herb, it’s added to many dishes for added flavour. An entire fresh stem with potatoes or steak brings an added boost of flavour. When dried, the herb loses some of it’s fragrance, but is a great alternative when the fresh stuff isn’t available.

The great thing about this herb is you can freeze it to prolong it’s shelf life. Something I will most definitely be doing!

Thyme

How to grow it

Thyme does it’s best in full sun with well-drained soil. Although, it’s known to survive deep freezes, so it makes for a really easy herb to grow.


Curly Parsley

Curly Parsley

Flora Friday featuring curly parsley!

This week’s Flora Friday is taking a deeper dive into the herb planter I bought at Lowe’s for my balcony garden. It has a few different herbs in it, including curly parsley. This definitely isn’t a herb I would have purchased on my own, so it hasn’t been getting the most use.

Parsley aka Petroselinum crispum

Curly parsley is more commonly used as a garnish while flat parsley is more commonly used in cooking for its robust flavour. Comparatively, curly parsley has a more bitter flavour and less flavour. While it’s not commonly used in dishes, it can be a substitute for flat parsley but it’s important to note that the flavour won’t be the same.

Curly Parsley in the bottom left-hand corner.

How to grow it

Parsley is a very common garden herb that’s very low-maintenance. Needing sunlight and regular watering, this herb works well in a bed with other herbs and vegetables. To promote growth, it’s important to harvest parsley regularly. If you can’t find enough uses for your harvest, parsley freezes well and extends its life expectancy.

Curly Parsley

Rosemary

Flora Friday featuring rosemary!

I missed Flora Friday last week because we spent the weekend in nature, camping. It was an absolutely fabulous weekend, but I’m excited to get back to featuring the herbs and vegetables in my balcony garden. This week, I’ll be featuring the herb rosemary.

Rosemary aka Salvia rosmarinus

Rosemary is a perennial herb with a woody, evergreen fragrance. This resilient herb can survive even the toughest of climates like droughts and can live for up to 30 years! This tasty herb is frequently used in cooking but it is also traditionally used for medicinal purposed.

Rosemary

How to grow it

While it can survive droughts or a severe lack of water, it requires full sun exposure. Since it doesn’t require lots of water, this herb requires good drainage so it doesn’t sit in moist soil. For that reason, be careful not to over water this herb! This herb will survive indoors during the winter, but be sure it gets the maximum amount of sun exposure possible.

Harvesting the herb…

When harvesting rosemary, cut the stem and use the youngest stems for the freshest taste. Don’t harvest more than a 1/3 of the plant at a time so the plant has time to regrow.


Mint

Flora Friday featuring Mint aka Mentha

This weeks featured herb of my balcony garden is mint. The herb is a fantastically aromatic option to have in the garden, that pairs well with fruit, desserts and drinks. It is also a very calming herb that has been used for thousands of years to help with indigestion or soothe an upset stomach. This resilient plant comes in many different species and hybrids and tolerates a wide range of conditions. It’s a fast growing plant, so you won’t need to plant too many to meet the needs of your household.

Different varieties

There are many different species and hybrids of mint, but the most common ones are:

  1. Peppermint is a hybrid of watermint and spearmint. The leaves are generally used peppermint tea and is used as flavouring.
  2. Native spearmint also used in flavouring food and herbal teas.
  3. Scotch spearmint a hybrid mint cultivated for essential oils and used to flavour chewing gum.

Some mint species are more invasive than others, but due to their speedy growth, it’s a good idea to separate this plant from others. Planting it in a separate pot on it’s own ensures that it won’t steal nutrients from neighbouring plants.

How to grow it

This resilient perennial can survive in a variety of conditions. Most will tolerate some shade, but ideally they thrive in full sun exposure. It grows the best in confined areas with moist, well-drained soil. From there, minimal care is needed other than keeping the soil evenly moist.

How to use it

I love using mint leaves in the summer by adding them to naturally flavoured fruit water. The fragrant herb adds another level of freshness that pairs wonderfully with cucumber and lemon.

I also love making mojitos with my fresh mint for a delicious summer cocktail.


Basil

Flora Friday featuring Basil aka Ocimum basilicum

After introducing my balcony garden last week, I am now going to feature a different herb or vegetable that I’m growing every Flora Friday. This week I’d like to introduce, Basil a culinary herb from the Lamiaceae family. It is a fragrant herb used worldwide in different cuisines and comes in many different varieties. This versatile herb is an excellent source of vitamin K, A and C, but it is also has medicinal properties. This annual herb is easy to grow in full sun exposure, but can also thrive in partial sun.

Basil

Different varieties

There are many different varieties of basil, the most commonly used types are:

  1. Sweet basil (or Genovese ) is the most common type you’ll find used in North America. It makes the base for a classic pesto and is used most commonly in Italian cuisines.
  2. Thai basil, commonly used in a variety of Asian cuisines has a distinctly different flavour from sweet basil. With a hint of licorice flavour, it is most commonly added to soups and curries.
  3. Holy basil, is not used in cooking but rather for it’s medicinal properties. In Indian medicine, the different parts of the plant are used to treat different conditions such as eye disease or ringworms.
  4. Lemon basil is a hybrid plant that is used in cooking. It’s mild but crisp flavour compliments seafood and sauces very well.

In my balcony garden, I am currently growing sweet basil as I most commonly add it to my Italian themed dishes.

basil

How to grow Basil

The basil plant is a fast growing herb that should be pruned pretty regularly to encourage new growth. The ideal condition is a full sun for 6-8 hours a day, but it will also flourish in partial sun. It grows in warm climates so it will thrive in the ground and in a pot. Cold temperatures can kill your plant so bring it inside during cold temperatures or harvest it beforehand. The herb requires well-drained and moist soil, so daily watering is important to keep your plant nice and healthy.

Regular pruning of your plant will encourage your it to branch and produce more leaves throughout the summer. If you don’t have an immediate use for your harvest, you can:

a) roll the leaves in a paper towel for about a week in the fridge

b) dry them out

c) freeze them for later use


Balcony Garden

Welcome to my balcony garden!

This being our second summer living here, I’m happy to say that I’m finally able to start a balcony garden in the little space I have to work with. We’re fortunate enough to have some outdoor space even though we live in a condo. A small balcony that faces southwest provides the perfect amount of sunlight for a few vegetables and herbs. I wish I could utilize even more of the space available but we enjoy sitting out there too much to dedicate it only to plants.

What am I growing?

Herbs

For my first attempt at a balcony garden, I started small and easy. I’ve grown herbs in the past, so I knew that it was an easy and mandatory addition to the garden. My favourite part of summer is using fresh herbs to create deliciously fresh and flavourful dishes, so if I’m going to add anything to my already full balcony garden it’s going to be a few extra herbs. At this point, on my balcony garden you will find: mint, basil, curled parsley, rosemary, oregano, and thyme. Really though, I’m just missing some coriander and dill and I would be 100% happy with balcony garden’s selection of herbs.

Vegetables

In addition to herbs, I also wanted to give it a go at growing some vegetables this year. I knew I wanted to grow tomatoes so I started my tomatoes off from seedlings. My first ever attempt, but looks like I’ll have some tomatoes in the weeks to come! I have one planter going from the seedlings I grew myself and also have some patio tomatoes growing in the large herb planter I purchased. I also planted some Kale because it grows like a weed and figured it’s one where I can’t really go wrong. So far, both vegetables are doing splendidly and I’m excited to watch them grow over time.

Unplanned experiment…

I’m some not so good news; I bought some packs of strawberry bulbs and asparagus bulbs but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. They have now turned into experiments.

The packaging said that there were multiple plants, 5 of the strawberry and about 10 of the asparagus. Well, when I opened the packages they were both 2 giant clumps of I don’t even know what. They didn’t resemble bulbs to me so I decided to throw both large clumps into the dirt and just see what happens. There is some teeny tiny, scattered growth starting to appear but I don’t hold much hope to anything coming out of this particular planter. It’s fun to just see what happens and see how resilient some seedlings may be so we’ll have to see if there are any exciting updates in the future.

balcony garden

Next week…

Next week and for the weeks to come, I’m going to take a deeper dive into a one specific plant growing in my balcony garden. Can you guess which one will be featured first?


Snake Plant

Snake Plant aka Sansevieria trifasciata or Dracaena trifasciata

flora friday - snake plant

When it comes to houseplants, snake plants are so easy to take care of and might actually beat out the Photos plant as the best first plant to get if you’re a new plant parent. This week’s Flora Friday features Snake plants. They are perfect for the home, particularly the bedroom, because they purify the air by absorbing toxins and producing pure oxygen. With 70 different species and a lifespan ranging from 5-25 years, you can build a huge collection just from this one type of plant. Care may vary between different varieties, but they can withstand pretty much any environment so this is a perfect plant for a basement apartment with low light, the office, bathroom or in a room that gets plenty of light; so versatile!

Types of Snake Plants

With 70 different species, I’m not going to go ahead and name them all, but here are some of the most common types that you should be able to find in your local nursery.

  1. Black Gold 
  2. Futura Robusta 
  3. Futura Superba
  4. Cylindrica
  5. Golden Hahnii
flora friday - snake plant

Personally, I currently own a Futura Robusta and a Cylindrica but I’m sure they won’t be the only 2 snake plants I own for too long. I seriously love how much they vary from species to species and how unique they can be, particularly my Cylindrica whose stems have a round shape similar to bamboo stalks (not going to lie, when I first got it I had no idea it was part of the snake plant family because of how different it looks compared to the other species of snake plants!).

Cylindrica Futura Robusta

Care

Snake plants are very easy to take care of because they can thrive in just about any environment and need minimal care, however, care can vary depending on the species. 

Light: indirect sunlight is the ideal environment for your snake plant to thrive, but they can also survive in full sun and/or very low light. For example, I keep my Future Robusta in my windowless bathroom and take it out for some indirect sunlight every few weeks.

Water: snake plants rot easily, so when I say it requires minimal care I mean it. Over watering your snake plant will quickly kill it, so make sure you don’t water it too much and that you have good drainage in your pot. Water your snake plant once the soil dries completely and avoid getting the leaves wet. In the winter, your snake plant will require even less water. For example, I generally water my Cylindrica once a week, while I only water my Futura Robusta every 2-3 weeks.

flora friday - snake plant

Are Snake Plants safe?

If you have pets at home, it’s always good to know whether or not your new houseplant would be a danger to them. Snake plants are only mildly toxic so the consequences of your pet ingesting the plant are generally going to lead to an upset stomach and that’s about it, so yes, this is a great plant to have at home even if you have pets. 

Tips:

If your snake plant leaf tips are turning brown, it is most likely due to: inconsistent or improper watering, over-chlorinated water, excessive direct sunlight and/or heat. If you struggle to remember your plants watering schedule, mark it on your calendar, set reminders in your phone or download an app (there are so many out there!). When watering, I personally use distilled water or rain water to avoid giving my plants over-chlorinated water. It’s a cheap thing to add to your grocery list and will have a significant positive impact on all of your houseplants. 


Flora Friday – Pothos

Welcome to Flora Friday featuring Pothos! My weekly post about my houseplants, balcony garden, or anything plant related. I started building my plant collection a few years ago and I can happily say that I finally feel like my thumb turned green this past year. There’s been a lot of trial and error, so I wanted to share my experiences, tips and tricks and general information about my plants that are super easy to take care of and will bring some greenery into your living space. 

The conception of Flora Friday…

Initially, when I was planning the structure of my blog, I wanted to have the Flora section solely encompass my houseplants. However, when I decided that this was going to be a weekly thing, my partner quickly pointed out that I’d run out of content before the year was up, so I came up with 2 solutions: a) the #1 excuse to buy more plants and build my collection (yay!) and b) expand this page to be anything plant related, whether that’s my garden, houseplants or general tips and tricks. To start this page off, I wanted to share what’s probably my favourite houseplant (it’s hard to call favourites):

Pothos aka Epipremnum aureum

Flora Friday featuring my Golden Pothos

This is by far one of the easiest plants and a great starter plant if you’re new to taking care of a living thing. It’s undemanding and super adaptable so it’ll survive even at the most forgetful owner’s hands. Frequently confused for ivy, this fast growing plant brings a lot of life to any space.

Types of Pothos Plants

There are 9 types of Pothos plants but some of the most common ones I see at garden centres are the Golden Pothos, Marble Queen Pothos, and Neon Pothos. 

Flora Friday featuring my Golden Pothos

Care

Pothos care is very easy and will survive even if you’re not able to maintain a consistent watering schedule. I generally water my Pothos plants once a week, but the key is to let the top two inches of the soil dry out before watering. Excess watering will likely lead to root rot so ensuring your pot has good drainage can help avoid this problem. 

They enjoy many different environments, so don’t fret if your space doesn’t get a lot of sunlight because Pothos plants thrive in bright indirect light as well as low light. These plants are perfect for low light spaces like the office or the bathroom because frankly they don’t do well in direct sunlight.

While they do grow quickly, I would still recommend fertilizing your plant at least once every three months with either a liquid solution or a fertilizer stick to help promote quick growth of your plant. 

Flora Friday featuing one of my Pothos plants with a new leaf

Are Pothos plants safe?

With any houseplants, if you have small children or animals at home it’s always important to note whether or not they can be poisonous. Pothos plants are toxic and if ingested can cause irritation and vomiting, although are rarely fatal. I personally have a dog but I keep my Pothos plants out of reach so I’m not concerned about my little buddy getting sick. 

Tips

  1. If your Pothos leaves are pale, it means there’s too much sun so remember to avoid direct sunlight when positioning your Photos plant. 
  2. If the leaves are turning yellow, it’s a good sign that you are over watering your plant and you may need to check for root rot. This would be a good time to repot your plant and ensure that your new pot has good drainage. 
  3. If the leaves are turning brown, it’s a sign that you’re under watering your plant. Since Pothos plants accept erratic watering care, this likely won’t happen unless you completely forget about your plant. 
  4. Leaves are turning yellow/brown – note which leaves this is happening to. Are they the first leaves on the stem? If so, this is just the plant’s life cycle. Old leaves die as new leaves grow, so if you see new growth as well then you’re a.ok. (see picture below)
Flora Friday featuring the Pothos plant