Today is tip Tuesday and today I offer a few tips for growing fresh herbs in a portable herb garden.
One demarcation I’ve noticed between a good cook and a better cook is they way the cook seasons food. I believe the seasonal use of fresh herbs in one way to improve the freshness and flavor of recipes along with the judicious use of salt, freshly ground black pepper, fresh lemon juice, and a variety of spices.
Herb plants can be either annuals or perennials. The edible part is usually the tender leaves and/or the stems of the herb plant that are chopped, or torn,and added to food for flavor and color. Most herbs grow quite well in warmer weather and even hot weather (except cilantro – it goes to seed or “bolts” in hot weather.) Now is a perfect time to plant herbs outside the kitchen door and a hole in the ground isn’t even required.
To grow herbs from plants I buy basil, dill, sage, oregano, thyme, and rosemary plants. This might initially be about a $20.00 investment depending on the size of the plants. Using a planter or large pot I arrange and plant the herbs in loose, rich potting soil. I plant one pot of annual herbs (basil, dill, and parsley) and another pot of perennial herbs (sage, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.) Position the pot(s) in a sunny spot on a porch or patio, close to the kitchen door. Water regularly and fresh herbs will be available to snip and cook with all summer long.
The dill, basil, and parsley won’t survive the winter outdoors in the pot. Sometimes they grow OK indoors, but I typically replant the annual herbs every year just like I replant flowers like impatients, begonias, and petunias. The other herbs – rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage – will grow every year without replanting. If the wintertime temperature drops below 10 degrees F it might be necessary to move the pots indoors. In the spring I give the plants a good haircut (or harvest and dry the herbs in the fall) and then the stems regrow the leaves for another season of fresh culinary herbs.
Herbs are good whole-leafed in salads or chopped in sauces, salads, pasta dishes, or spring and summer soups. With enough basil Fresh Basil Pesto is a favorite. Enjoy the fresh taste of herbs grown locally and seasonally in this portable kitchen herb garden