As we continue our tour of the Herb Garden we will look at the different kinds of Herbs that we have here at the Country Cottage.
Basil is an annual plant, which means that usually it will need to be replanted every year. I have had some success in my Basil coming back for several years. We plant it in late April or early May as the ground needs to stay a bit warmer for it to grow. We plant the seeds directly in the garden, although I have grown it from seed indoors. Basil loves the hot sun. It may wilt out a bit in mid day but it will bounce right back in the late afternoon and early morning. Try not to cut the Basil in the heat of the day, cut it in the early morning or the late afternoon. We try to keep our Basil cut back during growing season. Try not let it seed out to early as it will make it bitter. When it has stopped producing in the late fall, just cut it off even with the ground leaving the root intact. Depending on where the Basil is located it may come back in the spring. Ours has come back for several years. We have three different varieties of Basil. Lemon Basil, Purple Basil or Deep Opel Basil, and the better known Sweet Basil.
Lemon Basil has a very small leaf and the strong smell of lemon and Sweet Basil mix. It is great with poultry, fish, and many vegetables, butter, oil, vinegars, skin lotion, and beverages such as tea, water and special punch.
Purple Basil or Deep Opel Basil is a beautiful plant with deep purple leaves with little pink blooms. It has a slight taste of Anise. It is great with poultry, vegetables, and fruit such as tomatoes, cantaloupe, strawberries, or vinegars. My favorite use is in Italian Tomato Sauce.
Sweet Basil is the most popular Basil and the one that you will find in most fresh markets. It is used in many different areas of food preparation with poultry. fish, vegetables, salads, butter, oil, vinegars, skin lotion, and beverages such as tea, water and special punch. It is always a must in most Italian dishes and a perfect partner for pasta.
Chives make a great border for a flower bed or a border for the garden. They are hard to grow from seed, but if you are patient you can be successful. Most people have better luck planting from bedding plants. It looks like little spikes of green grass and taste like a very mild onion. Chives are great with most all beef, poultry, and fish dishes. Of course we have to have the Chives in our sour cream for our potato and paired with all vegetables. Our chives come back every year. We just leave the root system in tact.
Cilantro, an annual plant also known as Chinese parsley and coriander. Cilantro is used in a great many
Dill, I love the smell of Dill. We usually plant Dill from seed right in the ground. It is an annual plant so it has to be planted every year. I love to have the Dill ready in the garden when I am preserving pickles. Just clip a head of dill and it makes those wonderful dill pickles along with some other spice. Dill is often times used in poultry, fish , sauces, and other mix.
Fennel is found in three different varieties. We have Italian Fennel, which has a thicker stalk and taste like Anise. Fennel is widely used in Italian sauces, but more recently can be found in saute with many different vegetables. The top can be harvested many years if the bulb is left in tact.
Mint is a perennial and has become a very popular herb. It is very easy to grow; it spreads everywhere, and is very hardy. There are about 18 varieties of mint and it has at least that many uses. Mint is good with beef, lamb, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables, sauces, deserts, skin lotion, oil, and is used in many beverages. We have the Spearmint, it smells so good and taste so good. My Spearmint is very old. It was given to me by a gardening friend and it came from a very old root stock. Every place I have lived that mint went with me. I have passed on transplant of the mint to many people.
Oregano is a perennial and we have had better luck with it planted from bedding plants. Once it gets started it will just grow and grow. It needs lots of space, like Thyme it is a ground cover. It loves the sun and good soil. Oregano is originally from Greece, but we use it mostly in Italian recipes. It is great with tomatoes, meat, poultry, oils,and vinegars. Like many fresh herbs in its fresh state it is very strong.
Parsley is a great herb. It is very hardy once it is started and will come back year after year. The second year it may get a bit tall then it will bloom so you need to keep it cut back. I have had the best production from the bedding plant rather than seed. Parsley is used with many vegetable dishes, meat, poultry, fish and as a decoration on the plate. There are several varieties, however curly leaf and flat leaf are the most common.
Rosemary a perennial has a very strong evergreen smell. I love Rosemary and I always like to have many different bushes of Rosemary. It can grow up to 5 to 6 feet, although I cut mine so often, it rarely gets that high. It is a great compliment to any landscape. It can be used in meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, sauces, oils, vinegars. The largest Rosemary plants are available around Christmas time and make great gifts.
Sage in some areas is a perennial. Ours continues to come back with no problem. It is a very strong herb. I think of it mostly in the fall and can't think of making cornbread dressing without Sage. It has many uses mainly with dressing, vegetables, some poultry and meat.
Tarragon is a perennial and really needs to be started from a cutting or a bedding plant. It is very hard to grow, needs lots of T.L.C. It is a very French Herb and is great in vinegars, oils, and a good partner in most vegetable dishes.
Thyme is a perennial and can be started from seed, although it is much better to select a bedding plant. There are several varieties and the best way to choose your favorite is just to break open a leaf and smell. My favorite is Mothers Thyme, however we also have lemon Thyme. Thyme is very hardy and is a great ground cover. It is great in dressings, sauces, with vegetables, meat and poultry.
Next time as we continue our Herb Garden Tour, we will explore some of the ways we preserve our herbs, some special uses, and recipes. See you then...
Peace and Joy