I love herb plants. I have grown thyme, basil, marjoram, sage,
mint, parsley, cilantro, chives, rosemary, oregano and more. My
rosemary plant has now made it through two winters and it looks
like a small shrub.
I love herb plants because I get to eat them, they are easy to
grow, and they can be grown quite successfully in containers. My
herb plants have all been grown in plain, cheap plastic
containers from the local discount store. Some, like mint and the
rosemary, have been grown in their own individual pots, while
others, like thyme and sage, are planted together in window boxes
that sit on the walls of my patio.
These container-grown herb plants are incredibly convenient
because they are all about two steps out my back door. If I
decide I need an herb in the middle of cooking dinner, I can rush
out and grab a little without having to worry if my kitchen will
catch on fire (and without stopping to find my shoes).
There's really only one rule to growing herb plants: grow what
you like. If you never cook Italian food, don't grow basil. If
you don't like mint, don't grow it. You should never grow
something you won't use just because it looks nice, smells nice,
or seems like something that ought to be in your garden.
If you cook a lot, you probably already know what kinds of herb
plants you'd like in your container garden. If you don't cook,
growing some herb plants just might give you a kick-start. Try
easy-to-grow and use herbs like parsley, chives, cilantro or
thyme. Or grow things that correspond to the cuisines you like to
eat: cilantro for Mexican food, basil and rosemary for Italian,
mint and chamomile if you love tea, lemongrass and Thai basil for
Thai food, etc. Then get a recipe book from the library and make
sure those herbs don't go to waste!
There are two methods for growing herb plants: you can buy
already established plants or you can start your herb plants from
seed. We usually do a mix based on which herb plants are
available for sale at our local farmer's market or garden supply
The easiest herb plants to grow from seed are parsley, cilantro,
chives, mint and other similar plants with small grassy stems.
The woodier herb plants like rosemary, thyme and oregano are
better grown from established plants.
If you are planting established herb plants, you plant them in
the same way you would plant any other plant; just dig a hole,
put the plant in and water it well. If you're starting your herb
plants from seeds, scatter them over the soil, cover very lightly
with a little bit of soil and water well. The plants will begin
to sprout in about a week.
The great thing about starting your herbs from seeds is that you
can continue to plant seeds every couple of weeks all season long
so you always have fresh herbs available. Parsley and cilantro in
particular benefit from this continual sewing, because so much
must be harvested to be of any use.
Whichever way you choose to start your herb plants, make sure you
keep them well watered through the season and they will produce
well for you. Established herbs can be harvested by simply
trimming off what you need. The potency of dried herbs is about
three times that of fresh, so if you are using fresh herbs in a
recipe that called for dried herbs, triple the amount called for.
Fresh herbs aren't just for cooking. You can also use them in
craft projects, flower arrangements, and salads. Dry some of your
harvest so you'll have great "fresh" herbs all winter
long. You'll never go back to those sad little tins from the
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