Herbs are one of my favorites to grow in the garden. We use them all year in a variety of dishes. I always get a kick out of knowing I grew the herbs that provide fantastic flavour to some of our favorite dishes.
Herbs are great plants for new gardeners or ones that have limited space for growing. A small container can provide not only great herbs but can be grown literally anywhere!
When we are talking about herbs in our gardens the term specifically refers to use of the leaf in cooking. If you are using any other part of the plant to flavor a dish it is typically referred to as a spice.
For the purpose of today’s episode we are going to focus on herbs that are commonly used in cooking. They can either be annuals that need to be planted every year or perennials that once planted will come back year after year.
Some of my favorite annual herbs include basil, thyme and rosemary. If you’re in higher growing zones some of your annual herbs can even over winter and become perennials. I have some perennial herbs like sorrel and chives to my garden and plan to expand the number of varieties this season.
Herbs are not limited to just the plants you harvest specifically for the leaf. Plants like onions and garlic can be harvested and used as a herb. Simply harvest some of their leaves for cooking while the bulb continues to develop. Generally their leaves have the same flavor as the bulbs just weaker. Make sure to not over harvest or the bulb may not develop as well.
Annual herbs are fairly simple to grow from seed indoors. For things like basil I take a few seeds and broadcast seed them in a potting mix made of 1 part soilless potting mix and 1 part compost or vermicompost. Make sure to cover the seeds in a ¼ inch or 1cm layer of moist soil. Keep the soil moist allowing it to nearly dry out before watering. You probably wont need to fertilize your herbs indoors if you use a similar mixture as the compost or vermicompost will have more then enough nutrients.
You can grow them simply in a south facing window or under CFL lights. They don’t need as much direct light as say a tomato or pepper seedling so feel free to be flexible with their location!
Alternately you can direct sow your herbs directly into the garden even in zone 3! I will often start some indoors to provide some fresh herbs in the winter but also to get a head start in the garden. I then also sow seeds directly into the garden.
Not only do you get a great addition to most meals with a sense of satisfaction your saving money as well when you grow herbs in the garden.
I would love to know what your favorite herb is and how you use it.