Spring is almost here! And part of the fun of gardening is that you have the capability of producing things you can use in recipes for a lot of good eating. Herbs are some of the most versatile and easiest plants available to grow as most of them are not too fussy about soil and growing conditions are made easy because the majority can be grown in pots. In the pots always be sure to use a quality potting soil, not garden soil or regular dirt, as herbs need soil that drains well.
Some of the favorites for most gardeners are basil, rosemary, parsley, chives and mints. Of course there are numerous others including dill, sage, thyme, coriander (also known as cilantro) and lavender. Beyond the plants used in recipes many other herbs are used for medicinal purposes, and all of these have been utilized down through history.
But for the home gardener you are probably looking to grow some simple things which you can use on a regular basis in your kitchen. Basil is used in many things and doesn’t require much care. It is an annual so it can’t be planted until after the last date of frost in your area, but you can accelerate this schedule by planting it in a pot which you can move in and out of a protected area if frost is in the forecast. Primarily it just needs plenty of sun and average water; you will be amazed how it grows! Pinching off new growth will help keep it a bushy leaf producer, and the leaves are what you will use in the kitchen. If it grows very big it can develop a woody stalk which is alright but its better if you use it on a routine basis and keep new growth happening all the time. It will die when cold weather comes so you can just pull it out of the pot just prior to the first frost. If you have a lot of leaves left at that point you might want to make a big batch of pesto.
Rosemary is a wonderful plant not only for recipes but it is lovely as a small evergreen shrub in the garden because it will survive most winters if it is in the ground. Just be sure it has good drainage as the roots don’t like to be constantly wet. It has a woody stem structure but you can use the new green growth for your cooking plans. Chives and parsley are always wonderful as they are also versatile in the kitchen. Again, as with the basil these are very simple, put them in a pot with quality potting soil, give them sun and water and watch them grow.
Mints come in many flavor varieties and make lovely cool summer drinks come alive! However, one word of caution, mints are very invasive, which means they will spread everywhere in your garden! So you definitely want to make sure you put these in pots, and be sure to check the bottom of your pot as they will come out of the drain hole and root into the ground!
As always the professionals at Nature’s Friends Landscaping can help you with your choice of herbs and the care that they will need in order to supply your kitchen and reduce your grocery bill.