I have loved herbs as long as I remember, when I was just a kid I use to like picking basil for my one grandmother when see made spaghetti sauce; she had rows of tomatoes in her garden with rows of basil on each side. My other grandmother who was Polish had huge rows of dill. I loved the smell of it and like to watch her make crocks of pickles with it.
Today I grow both and think of hours spent with my grandmothers in their gardens when I smell these herbs. I love herbs, I use them daily, write about them, and when I lecture about them often begin the following saying. ' A history of herbs is a history of man and a history of man is a history of herbs….' So true and the beginning of hours of interesting study!
More than 30 years ago I had my first herb festival here. Then it lasted a whole week and was only held in the afternoon. Similar to our current herb weekend, we had tables with little talks and demos. There were presentations on making potpourri, herb vinegar, herb wreaths and other goodies.
Today it is much the same. We soak lemon balm in hot water to make herb tea and iced lemon water. We served delicious herb butter on crackers and have lots and lots of lectures and demonstrations.
One local herbalist, Ursula Dinshah (pictured left) has been to all of these events and has a table where she shows and tells all about healthy use of heaths in teas, with foods and as oils to us in aromatherapy. She will be at herb weekend this year on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Some of the usual culinary herbs featured will be picked and chopped and mixed into fresh, room temperature butter for the herb butter spread. We usually choose parsley, dill, chives, basil, thyme and sometimes a lemon herb. All of theses herbs are very easy to grow in a big patio pot or in a small garden. Each needs sun and a well-drained soil. The more you pick them the more they grow if given sun and water. Sometimes the pot will do well in winter indoors if there is a very sunny window with some fresh air each day. For the most part, herbs grow best outside.
Parsley is one of my very favorites and I grow lots of it. We plant a row in the garden, a patch in the herb garden and several pots for the porch. I had at least 6 big pots of it on the porch last fall that lasted well into the coldest days of last February. Then they succumbed to the weeks of below freezing temps.
Dill is a short-lived annual that has to be planted often. I have already planted two rows of it with hopes it will be ready the same time as the pickles we planted in the same garden. It is so good chopped on fish, in beet soup, on crisp cucumbers with sour cream and of course with parsley and chives chopped on buttered potatoes.
Sprinkle dill seeds on top of the soil much he same as how it falls from dried dill blooms, tamp it in and water well. Do not allow little seedlings to dry out.
Chives are probably the easiest of all herbs to grow. A very hardy perennial they are with you for life. Plant in a sunny spot and harvest often. The pretty mauve blooms can be used to garnish salads.
Basil is also an easy annual to grow if you plant seeds in the full sun when it is warm and keep them well watered until they mature. You might also buy a few plants to tuck in. Basil can be found in many flavors including lemon, cinnamon, Thai, and lime. Be sure to chop lots of fresh basil to sprinkle on tomato sauce for pasta. For detail basil use and pesto recipes email me at Tripleoaks@aol.com and ask for basil information.
Thyme is a wonderful perennial for sunny well-drained places. Use it between steppingstones, along edges or anywhere you want a low growing drought tolerant plant that blooms with dainty little flowers in summer. It is used in many, many delicious dishes but best known in stuffing for fowl.
I also like to grow the perennials sage, tarragon, lemon balm and mint. The lemon balm is the healthiest herbs of all and made into beverages keeps your immune system strong prevents colds and even calms down hyper kids. Again for detailed info email me at Tripleoaks@aol.com and ask for lemon balm details.
Mints are glorious herbs to plant wherever you want a nice, fragrant, insect repelling ground cover. Plant them in damp spots, plant them in dry spots, and plant them under trees or in the sun. Soak them the first couple of weeks and then they will go to town with little or no care. Apple mint is sweet and is delicious in tea, peppermint is also sweet and good in many recipes or potpourri, spearmint is wonderful and there are so many kinds to choose from. But orange mint is fragrant and wonderful in the bath or rubbed on your body to repel mosquitoes. I really fined that this keeps the critters off when you rub it on before working in the garden.
There are hundreds more herbs that are fragrant, historic, medicinal and culinary. Plant lots of them this year.
Lorraine Kiefer is the owner of Triple Oaks Nursery and has been a garden writer since 1972. Click here to email her.
Garden Articles Lorraine Kiefer has been a garden writer since 1972 and has hundreds of articles about plants, crafts, and traditions. Enjoy!
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