Summer is such a glorious time to be out. I look for every reason
possible to be in the fresh air.
One of my favorite past times is to work with herbs. I find it to be very
therapeutic. Using herbs as culinary flavorings is a very rewarding
way to utilize what I've grown. Nothing brings food to life or can
substitute the flavor of fresh herbs.
Growing and maintaining herbs is not difficult. They are a wonderfully fun
and exciting way to introduce children to gardening or to encourage some
one who may need a little boost of confidence in growing things.
They really are very easy.
A few reasons why herbs make a perfect beginner's project are:
*they are easy to establish
* they are low maintenance
*they provide a quick yield
*they are pleasing to the eye
*they spark creativity
Our newly transplanted Basil plant. This pot is right outside our back door.
The children have always loved to go out and pull off the fresh leaves
for tomato sandwiches or a pasta salad in the making.
This delicate looking plant is one of my favorites.
It's delicate appearance can fool a person though. Last winter, I brushed
the snow away to cut fresh pieces from it to add to a batch
of herbal vinegar that the girls and I were making.
I also mix it in chicken salads and rub it all over my
turkeys before I roast them.
OH! The aroma that comes from the oven~
Catmint or Catnip
Our cats crawl in the middle of this plant or lay on it.
Sometimes they break off entire branches! They can't resist it.
This can used for tea or dried and used to make cat toys.
It grows very quickly into a beautiful, bushy plant; it's been cut
back three times already this season.
I use this for stuffing and a homemade turkey sausage recipe that
our family enjoys. It smells so good drying in the kitchen.
This plant makes a lovely addition to a dried arrangement
or just used by itself.
We cut this fresh and chop it for our baked potatoes.
This is our second planting of Apple Mint.
Last year we lost it because it was in too hot of a spot.
Mint does prefer a bit of a cooler location. This year, I re-located the mint
so that is gets about half sun and half shade. It has
established well. I included a photo of the new shoots coming
only 5 days after transplanting. I was very surprised.
(Many herbs are draught tolerant. However, I have found in this
brutal AZ. climate where I live, even the hardiest of plants need
extra water and sometimes prefer part-shade.)
The Apple Mint with it's new shoots!
Many herbs are perennials which means they come back
each year without re-planting. This is helpful to
the budget and also makes anticipating springtime even more fun.
The plants grow in size and can often be propagated each year.
Plants make wonderful gifts or if you are of the entrepreneurial
mindset, you can pot and sell them at a local farmer's
market or craft fair.
Herbs can be grown in ground or they make wonderful plants
for container gardens. I like to mix them up with flowers when I
plant in containers.
If you put them on pots, and have a nice south-facing window,
they can wintered inside very well.
Here is my pot of Rosemary that I moved inside last winter.
It wintered very nicely.
This south facing window is in my bedroom.
I was very glad to add some green to my sanctuary
for the winter. (I am VERY big on green things inside.)
Not only do I enjoy just looking at my herbs, touching them releases
the wonderful aroma into the room.
As you can see, herbs provide so much enjoyment and
are useful as well. They can be used in foods, preserving, crafts and
medicinally. The possibilities are limited only by one's
creativity and desire.
If you enjoy herbs but aren't really
sure how to use them, here is a book that will help you get
started. It is called The Pleasure of Herbs
and is available through Amazon Books.
It is not a new resource but it is my old favorite.
I have used it as a reference for twenty years.
Just the fact that it is still available
today speaks of its relevant information.
Here is a description of the book.
This lively book is brimming with information about herbs and herb growing.
There are 298,000 copies in print.
Whether it's creating an herbal wreath for Christmas, a circular herb garden in April,
a bridal bouquet in June, or a savory harvest feast, this lively book is brimming
with dozens of exciting things to do with herbs every month. You'll learn to plant
an indoor herb garden, make herb breads and jellies, grow and use everlastings,
create pomanders and herbal pet aids, and much more.
Each chaper presents a potpourri of projects appropriate to a different month.
In February, for example, you plan your spring gardens -- a perennial fragrance
bed, an all-purple garden, and all-thyme garden, a knot garden. Meanwhile you
luxuriate in a lavender bath and sip a hot tisane (herbal tea) -- or perhaps concoct
an herbal valentine. November, on the other hand, features recipes for poultry stuffings,
directions for making gift baskets, potpourris, and Thanksgiving condiments,
and instructions on bedding down the garden for the winter.
An extensive "Gourmet Gardening" section begins each chapter, with advice
on seed-starting, soil preparation, companion planting, organic pest control,
harvesting, and garden wrap-up.
The book also includes:
* A culinary "herb-of-the-month"
* A chart of botanical names and families
* Harvesting and preserving tips
* A brief encyclopedia of herbs
* A list of herb suppliers
* A bibliography
I hope this information was helpful
and that you will be able to begin gardening soon!