I love my herb garden and simply can’t live without it. I eagerly wait for its return to glory as the winter slowly melts into spring. The taste, smell and sight of the fine blend of plants is a sensory paradise. Every home should have an herb plant or two. After all we have to cook every day, why not make it a flavorful experience.
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Don’t settle for dried herbs at the store. They are usually high priced considering the size your own plant will become. Plus, you can grab a leaf or two whenever you want it! Fresh from plant to plate, who can beat that experience? Don’t have a lot of space? No problem! You can easily grow these herbs in pots on your balcony and some even thrive in windowsills.
Below is a list of my favorite herbs. These are my all-time must haves…
Mint: This herb will make your tongue tingle! Spearmint is reminiscent of the Christmas holidays, sleigh rides and candy canes. Chocolate mint is awesome for making teas. In fact, it tastes just like an Andes mint candy! Mint, if planted in the ground, can be quite invasive. If you don’t plant it in a pot there will be plenty of starts to share with your friends and neighbors within a few years.
Chives: This great herb is perfect for garnishing any savory dish. It smells and tastes just like onions. You can even use the flower (when tender) to garnish salads.
Basil: Mamma Mia! The marriage of basil and oregano is the secret to any Italian dish. If you’d like to be adventurous try some sweet Thai basil. It is a beautiful plant and will turn any stir fry from so-so to sensational.
Oregano: This herb can taste stronger when used dried instead of fresh. Oregano has many uses and has been a staple herb for many cultures to perk up their traditional cuisine. I love a dash of oregano on sautéed summer squash with butter.
Lemon Balm: Simply heavenly! Lemon balm is wonderful in teas. Its spritely taste will awake your senses. Dry this herb for winter use; you will miss it if you don’t!
Catnip: I can’t forget my feline friends or their favorite herb in the garden. Catnip is actually a mint, and kitties just can’t get enough of it! Humans can make a tea out of this herb that is said to be relaxing. Cats seem to be more stimulated than relaxed by this demure looking plant. Your kitty + catnip = an entertaining treat for the two of you!
A Few Tips…
Throughout the season it is best to remove the blooms that begin to form on your plants. This will ensure that you will be able to use the plant for the longest period possible. If the flowers stay on the plant it will become woody and tough and make better toothpicks than seasonings.
Dry your herbs throughout the summer and fall. You can bundle the stems and hang them upside down in a dry, dark pantry with good air circulation. You can also dry herbs on the lowest temperature possible in your oven or in a dehydrator.
Another option is to freeze washed, chopped herbs in an ice cube tray filled with water. Simply measure out a tablespoon of your chosen herb and place in each cube then fill with water. Freeze and pop out he cubes into marked zip lock bags. When you need a certain variety of herbs in the winter simply pop out your iced herb cubes!
Growing herbs is quite simple! They are quite forgiving, yet flavorful little plants. Once you start your own herb garden, you won’t want to live without it.