Announcements

Carol's latest book, Gluten-Free Cooking for Two, is now available. Designed for small households, each perfectly-proportioned recipe serves two people. You will eliminate unwanted leftovers and reduce waste when you cook right-size meals with the 125 recipes in this book. Enjoy!!
Fill out my online form.

Where in the World is Carol?

Carol's in the kitchen, cooking up recipes for her next cookbook and www.CarolFenster.com

Watch for Carol on "Creative Living with Sheryl Borden," a PBS-TV show airing on your local PBS station during 2017-2018.

Grow Your Own Herbs for Huge Rewards

Fresh Herbs are a Good Thing

“Is it time yet?” Every spring—when the weather starts to turn warm—I ask myself this question as I ponder when to plant my herbs. My concern is frost.

Sage plant in Carol Fenster's herb garden.

Sage plant in my garden.

Depending on where you live, the last frost was long ago or still about to happen or never happened at all. Here in Denver, we’re advised to wait until after Mother’s Day to plant anything and every year that I don’t follow those instructions, I regret it. This year, I didn’t obey the experts. We had a very mild winter and I was just sure we were done with frost by early May. So I planted my herbs on May 6, then it snowed on May 17. They survived, barely!

I Love Fresh Herbs; You Should Too

More Flavor: Everyone knows that I love fresh herbs. Herbs add flavor to our food—no matter what diet you follow, gluten-free, Paleo, vegetarian, low-fat or whatever. They can be used decoratively in floral arrangements as well as food garnishes and they also have medicinal qualities (e.g., sage tea for sore throats or thyme tea for respiratory congestion).

Save Money: Growing your own herbs saves money. A package of fresh herbs at the grocery store costs about $3 (or more if organic).  An herb plant may cost that much at the nursery, but is likely to yield about 10 times that amount over the course of the summer. So, growing your own herbs makes sense economically. If you grow too much, share your bounty with friends and neighbors. When I travel during the summer, I ask my neighbors to use my fresh herbs while I’m gone.

Sensory: And, then there is the purely sensory enjoyment of fresh herbs. One of my favorite summer experiences is stepping outside my kitchen door to the herb pots on my patio and clipping fresh herbs to use in preparing dinner that night. I use basil, oregano, sage, and rosemary in Italian dishes, savory, dill, and thyme in stews, and of course, I use parsley and cilantro in almost everything but especially as garnishes. I even use fresh-cut herbs as fillers in flower arrangements, or sometimes I just put a bunch of herbs in a small vase and that serves as the centerpiece when I’m entertaining.

How to Grow Herbs for Maximum Yield

Follow directions for your zone and fertilize accordingly. Location (in relation to the sun) is critical. Some herbs, such as rosemary, thrive in lots of sun while others, such as basil, can’t tolerate too much.  Where I put my plants in relation to the shade and time of day is critical to how well they fare throughout the summer. I have found that my northeast-facing patio is an excellent location because it gets the morning sun, but is then shielded from the harsh afternoon sun by the shade of my house. You will need to experiment to find the best place for herbs at your house.

Pinch new growth regularly— just above a node or joint in the stem—to maintain a healthy, bushy plant. I found that this is especially important with basil, one of my favorite herbs. Don’t let it produce seeds or flowers (called bolting) so pinch those off right away. Remove any withered or yellowed growth. 

Water according to what the plant needs; some can tolerate drier soil while others like it wetter. Read the directions that came with the herb plant or look it up in a gardening book or the Internet.

Storing Fresh Herbs

When you pick a whole bunch of herbs from your garden or buy a lot at the Farmer’s Market, store them properly to prolong their freshness. Store fresh herbs with cut ends in a glass of water in fridge OR wrapped loosely in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag. Leave the end of the plastic bag unsealed to allow for some air circulation.

So, Plant Your Own Herbs

I hope you’re encouraged to plant your own herbs this summer. Whether it’s herbs in a huge garden or herbs in small pots, you’re bound to enjoy huge rewards.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>