I grow parsley, basil, chives and tomatoes on our balcony. We a,lso have a couple of small trees and colorful lantana and portulaca. This summer the tomatoes ripened early and are abundant and delicious. Daniela our 5-year- old granddaughter helped plant the tiny tomato plants, waters them regularly and is in awe watching them grow. She runs out to the balcony whenever she comes over to see if there are any red ripe tomatoes. She loves to pick them.
We use our tomatoes with eggs in the morning, on sandwiches for lunch and salads for dinner. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A and C. They are a good source of minerals such as iron, and manganese. The antioxidants in tomatoes are found to protect us against some cancers. There is nothing as good as the taste of a tomato picked from the vine, and you get the full benefit of vitamins and antioxidants when you eat them freshly picked.
The basil is growing like a weed. It reseeded itself and came up in the spring. I didn’t know the plant would come back to life so I bought a small basil plant. Now we have two huge planters filled with basil.
The basil smells delicious when you brush by the leaves or the wind blows. My husband Bill sometimes uses basil on the breakfast plate. We always use it for lunch and dinner. One big leave on a sandwich is very yummy!
When I use basil in a salad I stack up a few leaves on top of each other, roll up lengthwise and slice them into thin strips crosswise. The strips add an intensely aromatic smell and taste minty. I also make pesto with the basil and we use it on pasta. Last night we used the pesto as sauce for fish. Tonight I added pesto to some brown rice. Daniela had dinner with us and gobbled up the rice.
Even though I cut the basil daily, by the next day the plants seem even taller. Basil is so easy to grow, is delicious and very healthy. It’s so inexpensive too. When you buy fresh basil it’s expensive and doesn’t last long.
Basil is a good source of fiber and protein, vitamin E, A, C, K, B6, calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorous, copper, and magnesium. Basil is used as an herbal remedy for many ills. The beta-carotene in basil is an antioxidant known for its strength. It’s also great for the circulatory system. Basil is a popular herb in many countries.
The word “basil” comes from the Greek “basilikon” meaning “royal”. Greeks grow it in pots in front of their homes. Italians think of basil is a symbol of love. Indians see it as a sign of hospitality.
Parsley is another balcony favorite of ours. I grow the flat leaf variety. Like basil it contains many vitamins and minerals and it is also rich in antioxidants, and the dietary fiber that we need. It is the richest herb source for Vitamin K, which is important for bone density. It may not be as exotic as basil but humble parsley is delicious when picked fresh and is very healthy.
We use it daily- to liven up the plate, or chopped in salads, sauces or soups. I even munch on it straight from the pot when I’m on the balcony.
Chives, is the smallest species in the onion family. The name comes from Latin “cepa” meaning onion.
The chives plant is a perennial and comes back every spring. I bought a chives plant in the local supermarket many years ago and it is one of the earliest signs of spring on our balcony. Chives contain essential vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits as well. It’s a great addition to salads and baked potatoes.
I love the ritual of picking the herbs and tomatoes as well as the artistic food plates Bill makes with them.