Herbs are essential ingredients spicing up recipes all over the world. Without them, cooking and eating food would be pretty bland. They add flavor, character, and uniqueness to recipes. Depending upon the variety, you can use the leaves, flowers, or seeds. For some, like Cilantro/Coriander, the leaves and seeds are used. Used alone or in combination, they help to make cooking fun and enjoyable, and eating a sheer joy! Join the fun. Start growing herb plants today and taste the difference. You’ll be glad you did. Their taste, especially when used fresh, far exceeds dried, store-bought herbs.
Herb gardens generally require very little space. Plant a few of your favorites, along the side of the house or garage, and you have an ample supply for the kitchen. Try growing them in a container on your balcony or deck. They are very comfortable in windowsill planters, too. Many of them make good indoor houseplants during the winter months.
Garden Humor: A girl said she recognized me from the Vegetarian Club, but I never met herbivore.
There are a wide variety of herb plants which you can use, each adding a different flower to every recipe in your collection. . Depending on who is counting, there are 40 to 60 different kinds of herbs. Each one has its own distinct flavoring. Most are easy to grow. There are annuals, perennials, and biennials.
Listed below are the different categories. Note, that many fall into two or more categories.
Aromatic- Grown for their scent, aromatics herbs are used in sachets, flower vases, or dried arrangements. Their oils are used in perfumes, candles, potpourri, and toiletries to name a few. A couple of favorites are Lavender and Mint.
Culinary- Generally, we think of this category first, and foremost. Most gardeners grow several varieties. Food would be plain, bland, and boring, without culinary herbs. Some of the more popular are Basil, Chives, and Dill. Depending upon the variety, the leaves, flowers, or seeds are edible.
Medicinal – Since ancient times, herbs have been used medicinally, to treat or cure a wide range of ailments. We know many of them are proven to be effective. Others, like garlic, have preventative characteristics. (A garlic a day keeps the Cholesterol away” …sorry, I couldn’t resist!)
In ancient times, many herbs were believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits. We all are too familiar with the belief that Garlic, worn around the neck, wards off vampires and evil spirits. We encourage you to make a necklace of garlic and try it!
Ornamental- These types are commonly grown for fresh or dried arrangements. Ornamental herbs also make the flower gardens look nicer. In this sense, they are used as a flower. You probably consider most of these to also fit within another category of herb. If so, you are right!
Herb gardens are fun and easy to grow. They take up little space. Many growers put herb gardens up against their house or garage wall, so they can walk out and pick them as needed, for the day’s meal.
Tip: If you are growing perennials or biennials, make sure to plan your garden accordingly, so as not to disturb them the next year.
We encourage you to experiment and try new herbs each year. That way, you will be certain to try new recipes all winter long.
Most plants grow best in well-drained, fairly fertile soil with a neutral pH of 6.5 to 7.0. See pH levels for Herbs
Seeds can be sown indoors or out. Seeds are often very tiny and fine. Make sure not to plant the seeds too deeply. Just barely cover the seeds and keep the top surface of the soil moist. Thin seedlings according to the instructions on the seed packet.
For more how-to-grow information, click on the link for the specific herb toward the top of the page.
It is best to harvest herbs in the morning. This is when the oils are the highest concentration. Immediately after harvesting them, wash them in cool water. Then spread them out on a drying rack. Provide good ventilation. They should dry in three to five days. Many culinary herbs can also be frozen for later use.
Did you Know? It is the oil in herbs that gives them aroma and flavor.
Storage Tip: Freeze fresh herbs in water in ice cube trays. Pop out the frozen cubes, and put them onto a labeled freezer bag.
Few pests affect the herb family. In fact, some varieties, such as garlic, are used in organic pesticide formulas. Occasionally mites and aphids can bother a number of herb varieties. See Organic Sprays.
Plant diseases are not too common among the herb family.