Growing Gourmet Herbs

The Garden Advisor, By Lisa Ray, Grow Something Today For Tomorrow, Growing Gourmet Herbs

Herbs bring pleasure to the gardener with their interesting forms, fascinating history, folklore, and wide range of fragrances.

Herbs are most often planted in their own separate area in the garden.  You can also grow herbs in containers.  Herbs are a wonderful addition to any garden.  As long as herbs get plenty of sun and fertile, well-drained soil, they will likely thrive with little care. 

Top Ten Culinary Herbs

Basil – The most treasured annual herb of summer is a snap to grow as long as the weather is warm.  Wait until all danger of frost is past before setting outdoors.  Pinch out growing tips to encourage branching; remove flower buds to prolong a plant’s life.  There are many types and varieties to choose from.

Chives – The thin, hollow green leaves offer a delicate onion flavor.  Growing in perennial clumps, they produce leaves from early spring to late fall.  Plants also bear edible mauve flowers in late spring.  Divide clumps every 2-3 years to rejuvenate them.

      Cilantro – Their leaves are used in Mexican and Southeast Asian cooking.  Resembling flat-leaf parsley, cilantro leaves are best picked young.  A half-hardy annual grows best in cool weather and quickly goes to seed.  Sow directly into the garden, does not transplant well.  Make successive plants every 3-4 weeks for continuous supply of fresh leaves as long as it’s cool weather.  Allow flowers to mature, and collect edible seeds.

Dill – This easy annual is as pretty and it is edible.  The ferny plants grow to 3 feet tall, and produce round umbels of yellow flowers.  Sow seeds directly into the garden.  Make successive plants every 3-4 weeks for continuous supply of fresh leaves.  Allow flowers to mature, and collect edible seeds.

Mint – This vigorous herb comes in many flavors, such as chocolate peppermint, and lemon.  A perennial herb, can be invasive is often grown in pots, makes excellent teas and sauces.  Buy only healthy plants, do not start from seed.  Can be divided every few years, and new pots can be started with the old roots. 

Oregano – Used mostly in Italian dishes, this bushy spreading perennial plant comes in many flavors.  It has small edible purple flowers.  Cut plant back almost to the ground in early summer to promote new growth.  Divide and start new plants every few years.

Parsley – This biennial plant come in two forms, curly and flat.  Curly is mostly used as a garnish, but flat is used in cooking.  Buy transplants or start from seed.  Harvest stems as needed starting with the outermost ones.

Rosemary – Rosemary is a woody, evergreen shrub, either upright or cascading.  Grow in pots and bring them indoors in winter for best success.  May be grown in the garden, but needs protection in winter.  Grow from transplants or rooted cuttings.   Some varieties have edible flowers.

Sage – This woody perennial has a better flavor when used fresh rather than dried.  Beautiful stalks of purple flowers are borne in late spring.  The leaves are evergreen in mild winters.  Grow from transplants or propagate new plants from root cuttings.

Thyme – Thyme is a perennial that can be started from root cutting, or buy pot grown plants.  There are many flavors available from lemon, caraway, to orange.  Thyme hugs the ground and produces tiny pink, lavender or white flowers in midsummer that are edible.

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