Monday, May 25, 2009

herb gardening

one of my favorite hobbies is keeping an herb garden. i love gardening and plants in general, but unfortunately have not had luck with many vegetables or flowers thus far. it must be a combination of not being intentional about watering frequently enough in the summer heat, ignorance on my part about how to grow them the best, and also the lovely squirrels that i know ate what little vegetables did come up last year! one day, hopefully, i will have a gorgeous vegetable garden and maybe even a cutting garden for fresh flowers in my house... until then, my herb garden has proven to be an easy and fun project to maintain and has come in so handy for cooking. i first started this garden two years ago in a raised bed area that has the perfect amount of space for the herbs i like. some herbs come back, and some need to be replanted every year. today i went out back and cut down a massive amount of rosemary, peppermint, and oregano that was taking up a huge amount of my bed. it looked pretty, but i had to make room for the other herbs i bought yesterday.

keeping an herb garden is a great thing if you like to cook. those teeny packets at the grocery store that are often full of wilted herbs that have been cut for who knows how long are really expensive. you literally can buy an entire plant for what you pay for one of those, and although they seem to do best in the ground, most herbs are easy to grow in containers, so even if you don't have a lot of space, you can still be successful at growing the herbs. you just need plenty of sunlight. so the next time you are tempted to buy one of those plastic packets at the grocery store, consider buying a whole plant instead at a garden center or home depot. it is so much fun to be able to go snip a few herbs to add to a dish, and it really does make you feel a little like martha stewart!

herbs i have planted at different times in the past include: parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, marjoram, peppermint, tarragon, cilantro, mexican cilantro, lemon verbena, dill, chives, spearmint, lavender, and i'm sure some other ones i am not thinking of. i like to experiment with different ones, and i've done so when we have lived in different areas. as i said before, a lot of herbs come back every year, so i had an abundance of peppermint, rosemary, oregano, and even some thyme and chives left over. parsley and cilantro can come back as well, but mine died so i had to replant them. basil is an annual, so you do need to replant it each spring.

this picture is of my garden before i planted the new plants today and cut back the herbs that are already there. you can see the oregano, peppermint, rosemary, and thyme already in the ground. these were once tiny plants.

the abundance of oregano:

and rosemary and peppermint:

and here is my little herb garden for this summer. it's not that pretty yet because i thinned the existing herbs quite a bit and the new plants are little, but they will shoot up in no time and i will have more herbs than i know what to do with. the herbs i have here are, clockwise, oregano, peppermint, parsley (i planted 2), rosemary, cilantro (also planted 2), thyme, basil, and dill.

so as martha would probably ask, "have you planted your herbs (with the "h" sound accentuated, of course) yet?" if not, you should give it a try.

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