Thursday, June 01, 2017

Growing Herbs at Home

It kills me to buy fresh herbs at the grocery store because they are so expensive and you have to buy so much of it. Herbs are easy to grow at home year-round, though, in a container on a balcony, in a garden bed or in a sunny window. 

Growing Herbs at Home
I just learned it is NOT a hot weather plant like I had always thought. Another favorite is Thai basil which is a beautiful purple plant and has a more licorice flavor. It’s really fantastic.
If you are just starting out with herbs, choose varieties that you know you will use. I grow oregano, parsley and basil every year. This year I am adding mint in a container, too. Cilantro, which I love to use in green salads, has not been easy for me, but I keep trying! And

I have a thriving tarragon plant that started as an experiment two years ago. I had gotten an herb in a CSA share one time and could not remember what it was but I really wanted to grow it. My guess was tarragon. I was wrong, but it grows really well, and does not die over the winter in zone 7a so it lives very happily in the corner of my raised bet. Maybe you know the herb? It was a lemony flavored roundish leaf. Any guesses?

Caring for Herbs
To ensure success growing herbs this summer, read about the conditions that the plants need, like anything else you grow. Some like sun and heat, others do better in the cooler spring and cilantro does not transplant well. A little bit of research will really help.

Thai Basil
Don’t let your plants flower, or “go to seed.” Once the plant starts to flower, it will get bitter and taste pretty bad. So keep cutting back the plants - don’t worry, it will keep growing back. And if the basil grows like crazy in the heat of the summer, cut some off and bring it to the office. You will be a hero!

Using Herbs in Your Cooking
I like adding fresh raw herbs to green salad and pasta salad. They add a fresh, bright flavor. I also cook with them in soups, sauces and in marinades (here’s a favorite chicken kebob recipe that I make all summer long that features parsley). Playing around with herbs can make an old stand-by recipe something new, you just have to experiment.

Preserving Herbs
Like tomatoes and zucchini, herbs can be prolific in your garden so preserving the leaves for later use is something you might want to do. You can dry the leaves, preserve them in olive oil or preserve them in sea salt (I have not tried this yet).

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