Freshly cut herbs add a delicious garden flavor to your cooking. They’re easy to grow and cut. You can keep them in your kitchen or right outside your door for easy access.
Tonkadale gardening experts offer these tips to help you grow your own herbs.
Though every species requires some care, most herbs are tenacious by nature, and will adapt to many garden conditions. Herbs will tolerate poor soils, but need good drainage.
You can plant herbs in containers or in small garden spaces. They like a sunny site and warmed soils. Herbs are grown for color, flavor, fragrance and texture.
Harvesting herb foliage, just before flowering, will produce the strongest flavors. To harvest, cut back between 1/3 and 1/2 of the plant, leaving enough for continued growth. You can harvest flowers at bud stage, and harvest seeds once they are mature. They can be used for culinary purposes, either fresh or dried.
In order to properly dry your herbs, they must be in a warm, but not hot, location. Keep drying herbs away from direct sunlight. You can dry them on a rack, or tie them in small bunches to hang upside down. In humid climates, where drying is slow, the bundles should be smaller.
During the drying process herbs lose some of their essential oils, so the faster they dry, the better.
The basics of herbs
|Basil||One of the herbs in the bouquet garni. The leaves accent any tomato dish, make delicious herbal vinegar and are essential in making pesto.|
|Chamomile||Scented foliage and daisy like flowers. Excellent in flavoring a soothing tea.|
|Chervil||Peppery-sweet flavor combines well with any herb. Excellent when combined with chives. Used with egg dishes, soups, potatoes, salads and many vegetables.|
|Chives||Taste much better fresh rather than dried.Have a long growing season. Tasty in cheese, egg or potato dishes, or with any food that doesn’t overtake their delicate onion-like flavor. Flowers make attractive and flavorful vinegar.|
|Cilantro||Leafy part of the coriander plant. Gives distinctive flavors to Mexican, South American, Chinese, Southeast Asian, North African and East Indian cuisine. Flowers yield coriander seeds, which are the base for many curry and salsa dishes. One of the most widely used herbs in the world.|
|Dill||Best known as a pickling spice. Seeds and leaves flavor soups, sauces, egg dishes, cucumbers, assorted vegetable dishes, breads and pastries.|
|Fennel||All plant parts can be eaten either raw or cooked.Leaves and seeds are added to sauces, salads and soups. Base can be sauteed and added to meat, such as pork or steak.|
|Lemon balm||Fresh leaves have more flavor than dried leaves. Especially good when used in iced teas or lemonade.|
|Marjoram||Has a sweet taste, and stands well on its own, or mixed with other herbs in tomato, cheese or bean dishes. An ingredient in bouquet garni.|
|Mint||Used in sauces, jellies, hot and iced teas. Also used in flavoring many candies, desserts, beverages and liquors. Leaves, when crushed, will release their essential oils.|
|Oregano||Often accompanies marjoram and basil in cheese, tomato, bean, pizza and egg dishes.|
|Parsley||One of the best-known culinary herbs. Excellent source of calcium, iron and vitamins. Can be used in all green salads, butters, cream sauces, egg dishes, fish, stews and vegetables.|
|Rosemary||An aromatic herb that can be used fresh or dried. Often used for flavoring bread dressings, lamb, chicken, fish or vegetables.|
|Sage||Makes an excellent vinegar and is the main seasoning in most stuffing recipes.Leaves are most commonly used dried. A pungent herb, and should be used sparingly. Add to pork, turkey, dressings and egg dishes.|
|Summer Savory||Primarily used in soups, stews and marinades, and with meats and vegetables. Sometimes called “the bean herb” because it’s good with a variety of beans.Also works with many other vegetables.|
|Tarragon||French, Spanish and Russian varieties. Good for chicken, fish and egg dishes.|
|Thyme||Has a great variety of uses in cooking. Used in seafood and fish dishes of all kinds.Enhances soups, stews, stuffings, vegetables, fish and fowl.|
|Verbena||Fresh leaves have more flavor than dried leaves. Especially good when used in iced teas or lemonade.|