Wednesday, April 29, 2015
If you are just starting gardening, an herb garden is a great place to start. Most common herbs are perennials and do well being neglected. Want full bodied flavor in your cooking on the cheap-just add fresh herbs. What can be better than that!
Now, you just have to decide what type of herb garden to you want? It could be a medicinal herb garden, a fragrant herb garden, a Victorian herb garden, a French herb garden, a culinary herb garden, and the choices go on.
So, what are the herbs you should start with? A basic culinary herb garden would include parsley, basil, chives, French tarragon, sorrel, sage, dill, oregano/marjoram, and thyme.
Of these, parsley, basil and dill are annuals, the rest are perennials. With perennials, you plant once and you get to enjoy them for a lifetime. Parsley and dill will likely “self sow”, meaning their seeds will sprout into a plant next year. Basil will have to be replanted each year when all danger of frost has passed.
You can pick up your herb plants at any big box store or for more fun varieties, go to your nearest nursery or for the more adventuresome, start unique varieties from seed. There are many options out there. I prefer getting my herb plants from a local organic nursery or trying new types from seed catalogues.
You can buy an entire plant for less than the cost of one tiny bottle of dried herbs. Herbs are easy to preserve; just dry them. Cut the herbs back in mid summer and put in a paper bag. Do not pack tightly, pack loosely so that the herbs do not mold. Put in a warm, dry place out of direct sunlight if possible and a few weeks later you will be rewarded with enough herbs for your cooking and all your relatives for the entire year!
To get varieties that even your nursery does not have, order seed. I have phenomenal luck with the Aerogarden seed starter. The germination rate is near 100% using it. The best time to start new herbs is in the spring. All plants are primed for growth in spring. However, herbs will do fine being planted in summer.
Most herbs like full sun and dry feet. Too much water is about the only thing that will kill an herb plant. I plant mine amongst the flowers and near the back door for optimum convenience for cooking. You can also grow in pots if you like and put right at the door!