Sunshine is something which we have in abundance in Israel. From May to October there’s a pretty much uninterrupted stretch of sunny weather with no rainfall (for better or for worse). This predictability means that homegrown fruit and vegetables are a cinch and as each year goes by, I keep adding to the planters and varieties on my balcony.
Unfortunately I haven’t really inherited either of my parents’ green fingers and I’ve managed to kill off a lot of plants over the years – largely due to forgetting the very basic fact that they need to be watered on a regular basis – at some point in the future I will put in a watering system but I do really enjoy going out with the hose in the evening and seeing how everything is doing.
It seems obvious but the most important thing when planting an edible garden is to choose varieties that you know that you’ll make good use of – sage is just one example of a herb which grew fantastically but was almost untouched – a waste of space and irrigation water! My current crop revolves around plants used for tea – spearmint (nana), peppermint (menta) and verbena (luisa), herbs used in salads – purple and green basil, dill (also for soup), parsley and rocket, those used in cooking – rosemary and thyme and those which I’m in the process of figuring out – lemon grass. I also have a couple of cherry tomato plants which I haven’t managed to kill through neglect yet.
All of these are pretty hardy and forgiving. The rosemary, verbena and mint varieties all lasted the winter superbly and continue to thrive with very little effort – just as long as I remember to water them and there really is nothing like making a hot infusion using freshly picked leaves.
The rocket was planted recently and has grown fast. We love the peppery flavour and this plant has a particularly strong taste. Tonight was the first time that I raided it’s leaves as I like to leave a certain amount of foliage behind but I got a pretty good sized salad for two out of it. To the rocket I added cherry tomatoes and red onion and dressed it simply with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt (pepper is unnecessary). I served it alongside a simply grilled medium rare entrecote which was very well priced at the supermarket today.
Good handful of rocket, washed
8 – 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion sliced thinly
a sprinkle of salt
good lug of olive oil
sprinkling of balsamic (would probably do better still with a balsamic reduction)