Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A basic guide for a herb garden....

I am going through my seeds, preparing to plant in the herb garden. I am not an herbalist, I just like to grow and use herbs. I mostly just cook with them, but there are a couple of herbs that are good for other things. I digress.....

I got to thinking about which herbs are the easiest to grow, and the most practical to have on hand. Lots of people think you have to buy the plant to have the plant, but in most cases this is not true. Herbs can be grown from seed very easily. The trick is to have patience; Herbs generally take longer to germinate.

This is a pretty basic list of herbs to grow for culinary use. I am going to list in number of plants, since most people will not grow from seed. In mild climates, this plan can be used now, for those of you with winter, you might want to refer to it in spring.

Chives, 3-4 plants. They don't take much room, and they multiply. Garlic chives are also wonderful, good to chop and sprinkle on fish or baked potatoes.

Bay- 1 plant. This is a must have. Also, this is a tree. It is very aromatic, bring it in the house for the winter if you have harsh winters.

Dill- 4-6 plants. You can do succession planting with dill, so that you have seeds when you need them and foliage when called for. Also, it will reseed fabulously!

Thyme, 4 plants. You can use English thyme, or common thyme. There is also lemon thyme, but it is not as practical as the common.

Fennel, 2 plants. One plant for you, one plant for the butterflies.

Tarragon, 4 plants. Be sure it is French Tarragon. Russian Tarragon has little flavor or aroma.
And if you are in Texas, well, Texas Tarragon isn't the same thing.

Oregano, Greek, 2 plants. This will spread nicely. You will use it for everything.

Mint, 2 plants. One good Spearmint, one good Peppermint. Grow them in pots, to keep them from taking your garden for their own.

Parsley, 4-6 plants or more. Curly variety and flat parsley. You will use a lot, and the butterflies will eat you out of parsley.

Rosemary, 1 0r 2 plants. If you live where Rosemary is not hardy, grow it as an annual.

Sage, 2 plants. Any variety is good.
Winter Savory, 2 or 3 plants. Very good in Italian cooking.

All of these will grow through our winters. They like it cool, and many will disappear when it gets hot.

There are a few other things you might like to add to your herb garden.
Garlic. You can plant garlic, it will grow and multiply. There are many varieties of garlic, and it is all good.

Onion. Multiplying, bunching, or green onions. A bucket full of multiplying onions planted in the herb garden is a wonderful asset. These are especially fun for children to grow.
Cilantro, a pack of seeds. Depending on how you cook, cilantro can be very valuable in the herb garden. It is especially used in Mexican cuisine. Another name associated with cilantro is corriander. The seeds of cilantro are known as comino, a necessity in preparing carne guisada. Cilantro is the plant with the little white flowers in my picture. It reseeds nicely.

In summer, I grow Basil. Lots of basil, from seed. It germinates very easily and quickly.

These next two are not for culinary use.

Comfry, you will only need one. This plant will multiply, and grow a large clump. It is used to make a poultice by pounding a few leaves, wrapping them in cheesecloth or such, and applying it to scrapes, scratches, cuts, and bruises. It is a very, very excellent aid in the garden, if you are clumsy like I am.

Also, I love lemon verbena in my herb garden too, but I don't know that it has any culinary uses. I use it when I am to teach a class or speak at a seminar. I get very nervous, and I cut a few leaves to keep in my pocket. Bruise a leaf and take a big whiff of the aroma. It smells delicious, and it is very calming, for some reason.

The last thing I favor in the herb garden is flowers. Calendula, snapdragons, and nasturtiums, as well as Laura Bush petunia are favorites of mine.



NellJean said...

What makes a good little edging for the herb garden?

Praveshree said...

thanks Janie .. Advise about how people actually use herbs is better than the general info you get off the internet .. It's more believable for me .. I've saved your blog for future reference

janie said...

I don't have a fence around my garden, but I love to see a parterre around the herb garden. Germander is a great herb for a parterre, or you could use clumping bamboo, kept short from the beginning. On the north side, you could use grasses such as vetiver or lemon grass as punctuation marks.

A parterre, for those who are interested, is a short hedge which outlines a garden bed. Boxwood, yew, dwarf yaupon are plants that make a good parterre. The important part is that the parterre should not shade the herb plants.

You could always use a little fence, and grow things like sweet peas on it. Sweet peas are a favorite in the garden, too.

Anonymous said...

That's what my garden is lacking, a designated herb bed. Yours is very pretty right now. I grew lots of basil this summer, but I have more ideas for next year. ;)

tina said...

I've started herbs from seeds before. They are wonderfully easy too! This year one of my classmates in my soils class, who happens to be a Chinese professor here doing work on plants, gave me a flat of sage and parsley seedlings she had started. That was fun trying to find a spot for them all that gets sun. I think I did it with most and I just noticed they are all doing well. In fact, I think I can harvest sage now. I love the flowers of sage and the taste in meat.

Nell Jean, Santolina is also a excellent herb edger in addition to all Janie said.

Amy said...

I am glad you did a post on your herb garden. I have a very small one. I don't know much about herbs...I do like to cook with them. I have lots of rosemary...coming out my ear. I will have to remember this post for the good info. Thanks, Janie!

Rosey Pollen said...

Because you did this post, I am inspired to dedicate a bed just to herbs. Thanks for the information and the inspiration! I like what you did with the lemon v. when you were nervous. Do you ever forget it's in your pocket and wash it? I have washed seeds that I stuffed in my pocket and forgot about them. :)

janie said...

I wash all kinds of things in my pockets! I have run to plant seeds that had been washed, and many have germinated nicely.

Anonymous said...

I discovered an excellent way to use rosemary from an Englishwoman I know. In addition to the culinary, of course. This is probably old hat to many, but it wasn't to me.

She places sprigs of rosemary in her flower bouquets. They add an aromatic zing plus provide the visual "ivy." Clever!

Becky said...

Try a little lemon verbena leaf ,center rib removed chopped fine in a fruit salad. It makes the addition of sugar unnecessary. I also love chervil. Who am I kidding I love herbs period!

James Missier said...

Had fallen in love with all the herbs you had mentioned. Its a challenge to grow them in my place.
Rather - holy basil, thai basil, Indian borage, mint, curryleaf plant, pandan does so well in my garden.

janie said...

Thanks for all the nice comments everybody.

Becky, I have never eaten lemon verbena, but I will try it. Also, I have not tried chervil. What do you do with that?

Calann621, that is a good idea! The aroma of the rosemary would last longer than the bouquet!

James, of course, those are good warm weather herbs. I love all those basils! What is pandan?

Also, Tina, Santolina is very good, if I can put it in at the right time. I usually miss it, and it does not do well at all here, if it doesn't get just the right start.

gld said...

I like the idea of a dedicated herb bed. I have them scattered here and there which seems to be the planting theme of my entire garden!

So many ideas and things to do...and not enough energy to do them all.

I like the idea of an edging of lavender, but it doesn't grow well everywhere.

LeSan said...

I am not much for growing edible plants so far. It's still early in my career. I am however a sucker for a good smelling plant and herbs fit this bill quite nicely. I have a number of the ones you listed. I am currently using dried rosemary in my fireplace kettle. A very nice aroma.

texasdaisey said...

I love to grow herbs too. They are so nice when I brush them as I am working and the aroma they release. I need to get better about gathering them to use. Many of them do have some really great uses. You mentioned a couple that I need to try for sure. Lemon verbena is one of my favorites but it freezes out. Is it easy to start from seed? It is one that is a bit hard for me to find as a plant. I love lemon thyme and pineapple sage too. they really do well in my garden.