Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kitchen herb garden

Sunday, June 24, 2012

If you are just starting gardening, an herb garden is a great place to start.  Dried herbs are expensive at the store.  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!

Flowering Chives
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.  There are many options out there.  You can go to a full service nursery to see and smell the herbs in person. 
You can buy an entire plant for less than the cost of one tiny bottle of dried herbs.  Herbs are easy to dry.  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.
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!

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