Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hungry for Herbs

After several years of buying herb seeds in packets of 100's and only using a few, I decided to share herbs with friends and neighbors this year.  I was surprised to find so many people who were cautious and slightly fearful of growing a few herbs in their garden or on their back porch.  Such simple plants that are part of our culinary history going back to the caveman (or cavewoman) who felt their Wooly Mammoth was gamey and needed a little something.

Herbs, and most plants, are pretty resilient and have a few basic needs.  The herbs I grew this year were: Gigante d'Italia Parsley, Chive, Alaska Naturtium (pictured above), Bright Lights Chard, Caribe Cilantro, Afina Cutting Celery, Basil (Genovese, Sweet Purple, Lime), Runaway Arugula and Spearmint.  All require lots of sun, six or more hours, and water to keep them from drying out.  Too much water and fertilizer dilute the flavor and intensity of the plants, so plant them, give them water and enjoy the harvest all summer long.  The seeds for my herbs were sourced from one of my favorite seed and flowering bulb companies:

John Scheepers Garden Seeds

Through this site you can connect to their flower bulb website and order seasonal bulbs, and they will ship them at the appropriate time for planting.  These are the best bulbs available in my opinion.

Back to the herbs, they can be grown in sunny beds in the garden or a few pots on the back deck or terrace.  The Arugula and Chard are actually vegetables and not herbs, but I loosely lump them in the same category.  The Arugula, Chard, Italian Parsley, Chive, Nasturtium and even Cilantro rate all great additions to fresh salads.  They add fresh and diverse flavors to regular salad greens, and with salad greens can be dressed with some good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

Nasturtium is one of my favorites, the flowers and leaves are edible.  The leaves are a spicy (think radish) addition to salads and sandwiches, and the flowers are a wonderful addition on top of a salad.

Herb gardens can be a nice manageable project for people to learn about growing and truly reap the rewards of their work.  Most nights in the summer I will pick a few things on my deck for dinner and it is a nice connection to how people used to provision and prepare their meals.

Enjoy, Reed

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