Grow Your Own Herbs

So many herbs, so many uses

  
Herbs are no doubt among the easiest plants to grow in your garden. Many of them are fairly drought tolerant and have a blooming period albeit short. In addition, herbs lend a delicious fragrance to the garden.

While most herbs are easily grown in containers which is a major plus, if you have space, consider planting an entire herb garden. It needn’t take that much space. A plot of land measuring approximate 200-400 square feet should do you quite nicely. Find out the diameter of a mature plant; obtain some graph paper and sketch out your garden before you dig a single hole. Remember to allow at least 1 foot of space between mature plants for ease of weeding and pruning.

One of the most fragrant herbs to add to your garden is lavender. The scent of lavender in bloom is heavenly and is wonderful for making scented sachets to hang in your closet or place in your dresser drawers. This is the only herb I would suggest you plant as many as you have space for as those sachets make wonderful gifts.

As the song goes, 4 great savory herbs to add to your garden are Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Fresh chopped parsley is a wonder addition to potato and pasta salads, not to mention a lovely garnish for many other dishes. Try drying sage leaves to add to many dishes including stuffing for turkey and chicken. And, both rosemary and thyme are excellent accents when roasting poultry and lamb among other savory dishes.

Tarragon is a wonderful addition to soups and vegetables. This herb is also good in tuna, egg, pasta and green salads. Add when making sauces for fish or chicken, it’s a must for béarnaise sauce.

If you intend upon canning pickled vegetables from your garden or making pretty vinegars for gifts think about planting some dill. While its true you can purchase dried dill weed very cheaply, there is no way you can get a full stalk of dill unless you grow it or pay rather dearly for it when needed in quantity.

In my opinion, no herb garden is complete without chives. In fact, if I could plant only one herb, it would be chives because they are so very useful. While I love green onions, by the time I get around to using them, alas they all but lifeless. No problem with chives growing right outside my door. They not only add that touch of needed green, they also have that subtle onion flavor which is perfect for salads and potato toppings.

Unfortunately, another one of my favorite herbs is not worth planting. Cilantro tends to bolt so quickly you would be lucky to retrieve a leaf or two. Obviously those that grow cilantro commercially know something we don’t know and they aren’t telling. If you figure it out please let me in on the secret. I will let you in on my secret for preserving store bought cilantro, however. Place the bunch of cilantro in a glass of water and cover with the plastic bag it came in. This way, the cilantro will stay fresh and crisp for up to 2 weeks in your fridge.

On a final note, let’s talk about mint. A favorite of mine is pineapple mint. It has a wonderful fragrance and taste and makes a lovely tea and garnish. However, there is a real problem with mint. It’s tangled roots go deep and it tends to try to take over every other plant in the garden. Spray it with Round-up and it comes right back again. Once planted, you simply can’t get rid of it! So, if you want to add mint to your garden, plant it in a container and move the container often enough to insure it doesn’t take root in the ground through the drainage hole in the container.

Plan Ahead for a Great Garden

How to Start a Family Vegetable Garden this Spring | Inhabitots

Every year spring comes and I get so excited to get outside and plant my garden.  I can just taste those fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and all the other wonderful produce that I will grow this summer.

I stop at all the seed displays and see if there is anything new that I want to try and grow this year and take pleasure in my anticipation to dig in the dirt.

I watch the weather and am careful not to plant to soon, I don’t want my plants caught in a late spring freeze of course.  Then the time comes when I just can’t stand it any longer I head to the nursery to buy my plants.  I of course get way too many of everything and then I patiently haul them outside every morning to get some sun and then bring them in each night until the big day arrives.

I get my garden area all rototilled and ready and invest in some plant food to help my little darlings along after I get them planted.  I’ve got my stakes and string ready to make neat little rows of carrots and radishes.  I’ve got my wire cages ready to place over my tomatoes plants and am just itching to get started.

Finally the day has arrived and I can plant my garden.  I start out the morning with enthusiasm and get everything planted just so.  It is a little more crowded than I would like because I seem to always try to fit too many plants and seeds into the area, but I tell myself it will all be worth it.

All through June and July I lovingly cultivate my plants, weeding and watering with a vengeance.  August comes and we are thoroughly enjoying all our fresh vegetables.  But by then it is getting a little hot out and weeding isn’t quite as fun anymore.  Toward the middle of August I have vegetables coming out my ears and it is time to can and freeze all this freshness for winter.

I start out with salsa and then move on to tomatoes and pickles.  Then of course I need to get those strawberrys in the freezer. And I don’t want the corn to get too mature before I get it into the freezer.  After a week or two my kitchen is a wreck and I am tired of spending the last of my summer days inside.  If I never see another tomato or ear of corn I will be extremely happy. Between getting ready for the new school year and freezing and canning all my great produce I am thoroughly exhausted.  Plus it seems like with this heat watering my garden, let alone the lawn is a never ending chore.

But of course we don’t want anything to go to waste so I head down to get more canning supplies and keep at it.  When it is all said and done I have way too much for my family to use so of course I give it away.  You don’t want those vegetables to go to waste you know.

By this time I look out and my peaches and apples seem just right for picking and the process starts over with them.  While I am working on my fruit of course the garden is still producing and even though I quit canning and freezing from there I can’t let it go to waste so I make sure every morning and night I pick what is ripe and give it away to those that will surely appreciate it.  Because by this time the thought of eating anything out of the garden is not very appealing, neither is cooking in my kitchen that has become a canning disaster area.

Then the next big day that I can’t seem to wait for, the big freeze.  Finally my gardening job has ended.  All I have to do now is get everything in the compost pile, re-rototill, and fertilize.

As I look at my kitchen and see all the fruits, vegetables, pickles, and jellies ready for winter I am proud, but really really tired.  I vow next year I will not take on so much.  Last year I went ahead and planned my garden in October and made specific counts of just how much I was going to plant.  I made counts of just how much I had frozen and canned to see just how much we would use in the coming year.  I made little footnotes of my thoughts on the subject as well.

Well spring is approaching, well kind of there is still snow on the ground, and I got out my garden plan and looked at all the produce my family still hasn’t eaten and thought about how much of it I had given away this winter already and thought maybe I should follow this new garden plan as I started to unfold all my notes.  I vaguely remember thinking Pace salsa is almost as good as my own, and who really can tell if the canned tomatoes came from the garden or not after they have been cooked.

I don’t know if I will be able to stick to this streamlined plan when my green thumb starts itching to grow things but I keep telling myself if we run out of salsa, jelly, corn, or tomatoes it won’t be the end of the world.  They are readily available at the grocery store and in the long run may cost less than me putting them up myself. I was totally convinced in October, kind of convinced now, but I am wondering come May if I will be able to stick to it.

I have a feeling when the grass starts turning green, and the tulips show their colors all my best laid plans for a more relaxing late summer are going to go by the wayside.  Oh well, I guess their could be worse addictions.  I wonder is there such a thing as a 12 step program for those addicted to gardening in excess?