Herbs…from Garden to the Kitchen

When planning a herb garden, be sure to keep in mind a few things;

Location:
– most herbs love full sun (4-6 hours)
– keep the location close to where you will use them such as near the BBQ or door to the kitchen
– the composition of the soil is key determining the health of the plants and the amount of harvest
– add compost, peat moss and well-composted manure or worm castings to improve soil structure
– healthy plants are less susceptible to pest and disease infestations

Rosemary, 6″ $8.99

Choosing the Plants:
– choose plants that you currently use in cooking or want to harvest for winter cooking
– have fun and experiment!
– many herbs are also available to grow from seeds
– Basil – tomato dishes, pesto, sauces and salad dressings
– Chives (regular or garlic) – good for salads, eggs, rice and sauces or with vegetables (ie baby potatoes)
– Lavender – use for cooking, baking or aromatherapy
– Mint – teas (dry or fresh), soups, salads or in drinks (Rum Mojito)
– Oregano – sauces, mushroom dishes, beans, spaghetti (any Mediterranean cooking)
– Parsley – soups, sauces, salads… the perfect garnish!
– Rosemary – meat, especially lamb, tomato dishes, stews, breads and custard
– Sage – cheese dishes, stuffing, soups, pickles, beans and peas
– Thyme (regular or lemon) – fish, poultry and for soups (chicken), egg dishes and green veggies

Lemon Thyme, $3.99

Planting:
– space the plants to allow for good air circulation to reduce mildew issues
– plant herbs with the same growing conditions together (rosemary and lavender both like hot and dry conditions)
– how with the herbs be used (culinary and/or medicinally)
– know which plants are perennials and plant the annual herbs in between
– some herbs are used for their fragrant leaves, some for the root and others provide cut flowers throughout the growing season
– plants with square stems (mint) have an aggressive root system – sink pots into the ground, then plant in the pots
– don’t be afraid to mix herbs with other perennials in border plants or in vegetable gardens
– be creative and enjoy!

Boysenberry Ruffles Lavender, $3.99

Maintenance:
– fertilize with high phosphorus for root development (middle number)
– mulching the herb garden will help to eliminate weeds, retain soil moisture, cool the summer soils and protect the perennial herbs in the winter
– check on a regular basis for pests and diseases so you can find them before they become a problem
– cut off the flowers as herbs are not usually grown for flowers and it takes away from the nutrients (exceptions; lavender, calendula)
– the pollinators would love it if you leave a few flowers blooming as bees and butterflies LOVE herb flowers!
– in the late fall, remove the annual herbs before frost and cut the perennial herbs down to 2” (except lavender)

Spearmint, $3.99

Harvesting:
– wait to harvest your herbs until the plant has reached sufficient growth to withstand cutting
– harvest just before the plant flowers ensures the highest level of flavour since that is when essential oils are at their peak

Plants mentioned are subject to availability