Herbs are easy to grow, tasty, and versatile and are a great addition to gardens and containers. Here are a few tips for growing herbs and some quick, easy additions to dishes.
“Right plant in the right place” is an important piece of advice for any type of gardening, but when choosing where to plant your herb garden, consider planting it as close to your kitchen door as possible. The more convenient the location, the more likely you will be to use your herbs, especially when needing to add a little extra to really make a recipe stand out.
Most herbs like very well-drained soil. If soil is too rich and high in nutrients it will promote rapid growth, causing the plant to have a lower concentration of the oils that give herbs their desired flavors and scents.
Most herbs love the sun, six hours at minimum but longer is better. The more intense the light, the more intense the flavors and scents of the herbs. Harvest sprigs and leaves as needed, but be sure to leave enough for the plant to keep growing.
Harvest herbs before flowering for the best taste, and “dead-head” flowers to promote new foliage growth.
Herbs planted in the ground should be thoroughly watered each week. Herbs in containers must be watered more frequently – every day in hot weather. Don’t allow the soil to dry out completely or the plant to wilt, but do not keep the soil soggy, either, since this will cause root rot. Consider planting perennial herbs in the ground to enjoy them year after year.
Mint is a common perennial herb, but it is also a fast spreader and can become invasive, so choose the location carefully or plant in a pot each year. Other perennial herbs include chives (also somewhat aggressive), common sage, and lemon balm. Though they are not perennial, herbs that may reseed themselves include cilantro, chamomile and dill.
There are endless ways to use fresh herbs in cooking, and it’s easy to find recipes that call for fresh herbs in cookbooks and online. Try these simple additions for a quick, fresh flavor boost:
- Add a couple sprigs of fresh thyme (any kind, but lemon thyme is fantastic!) to fish dishes.
- Muddle mint leaves in ice water or strawberry lemonade.
- Pan fry sage and use as a garnish – this is especially good for Thanksgiving!
- Combine fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar for a quick Caprese salad.
- Parsley goes well with everything, especially potatoes, and it’s a favorite food of the Swallowtail butterfly.
- Combine olive oil, minced garlic, and rosemary – brush on baguette slices and toast. Yum!
Tonkadale Greenhouse carries herbs all year. Choose from a wide variety of herbs to enhance the summer garden as well as during the colder months to help you create culinary masterpieces any time of year.
Jessie Jacobson, general manager of Tonkadale, appeared in a recent episode of Happi House to talk about herb gardens. Click on the video to start it, and take a look!
For more information on herbs, including how to harvest and store herbs, visit the University of Minnesota Extension website:
Top photo: Wikimedia Commons