Herb

The important thing to remember about herb gardens is that they are relatively easy to cultivate and will do well as long as they have good drainage and ample sun. Growing herbs adds great beauty to the landscape and provide variety and flavor to any recipe in which they are used. Click on the articles below for guides, ideas and more.

Fall Is Garlic Planting Time

Garlic BulbsHow to grow garlic? Give it the right soil and weather conditions.

Fall is an important time for growers of garlic. Savvy garlic growers know that cloves planted in the fall yield larger bulbs than those planted in the spring. Some garlic partisan’s will tell you garlic that experiences a winter in the ground will taste better but we’ve never been able to conduct a side-by-side taste test. That’s because all the growers we know plant their garlic in the fall.

But it is true that garlic planted in warmer regions needs an exposure to cold to grow properly. Hardneck garlics need a cooling period — two or three weeks at 40 to 50 degrees — before planting to grow properly in areas where soils temperatures stay warm. (more…)

Plant a Thyme Lawn

Grass AlternativeThyme makes a good, natural lawn replacement. Here’s how to grow this attractive, drought-resistant herb instead of grass.

In an effort to reduce water use and time spent caring for lawns, some gardeners are replacing their turf with thyme. Thyme is an ideal grass alternative. It requires less water, is generally tough (see “walking on thyme” below), drought resistant, hardy all the way north to zone 4 if it’s healthy, and will spread easily to fill in most of the space that you want it to. Best thing: it becomes a carpet of attractive, lavender-colored flowers that lasts long into the season. If you’re looking to replace your thirsty grass with something more xeric, consider thyme.

There are down-sides to putting in a thyme lawn. It can be expensive. When you’re planting plugs of thyme 6 to 12 inches apart, you can burn up a lot of cash fast. Most sources recommend planting smaller areas. If you have a croquet court-sized yard (in other words, large) you might want to consider planting only part of it in thyme to start. You can always go back and expand your thyme planting another season. The other down-side is the labor it takes to get your thyme in the ground. You’ll need to kill off all the grass where you intend to plant first. This can be a slow and difficult process. (more…)

Growing Culinary Herbs Indoors

Growing Herbs IndoorsGrowing basil and other herbs through the winter under lights is easy. Here’s how.

By Bill Kohlhaase, Planet Natural

There are plentiful reasons to grow herbs indoors: basil pesto, rosemary chicken, maple and marjoram-roasted turkey, fresh oregano pizza sauce, tarragon salmon, cilantro-flavored salsas and spicy chive dip. The rise of gourmet home cooking as well as the popularity of fresh, home-raised and locally-grown foods has increased demands for fresh herbs. Why not grow your own, year `round? With modern advances in grow lights, growing mediums and self-contained hydroponic systems, raising herbs inside a small corner of your home can add year-round flavors, scents, even profits to your life. (more…)

Herb Gardening 101

Herb GardeningHow to grow healthy, delicious herbs in your garden and indoors.

Herbs have long been revered for both their medicinal and culinary value. They may cure colds, help you sleep and add flavor and zest to dinner. Fortunately for home gardeners, growing herbs is relatively easy. They thrive in just about any type of soil, do not require much fertilizer, and are not often bothered by insect or disease pests.

Defined as a plant without a woody stem that dies back at the end of each growing season, herbs were once considered a gift of the gods. Elaborate ceremonies and rituals celebrated their growth, harvest and use. Today, herbs are popular in many home gardens, where their leaves are utilized for flavoring and an entire plant may be used for medicinal purposes. (more…)

Thyme

ThymeA highly aromatic herb grown for its many culinary uses as well as a hardy ground cover.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 90-180 days from seed
Height: 4 to 12 inches
Spacing: 6 to 12 inches apart, 12 to 18 inches between rows

Native to the western Mediterranean, home gardeners are growing thyme (Thymus) as a landscape plant as well as for cooking purposes. With many varieties available on the market, it is one of the most versatile herbs and can be used to season any meat or vegetable dish. Thyme grows well in containers or along walkways where it can tolerate moderate foot traffic. Perennial. (more…)

Tarragon

TarragonTips and techniques for growing French tarragon.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 40-60 days from transplant
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Spacing: 18 to 24 inches apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows

A member of the daisy family, French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is the classic herb to accompany fish and poultry dishes. The long, narrow leaves borne on upright stalks are a shiny green. Greenish or gray flowers may bloom in the fall. Aromatic plants grow 1-2 feet tall and tend to sprawl out later in the season. Perennial.

Note: Tarragon reportedly aids in digestion and when made as a tonic is said to soothe rheumatism, arthritis and toothaches. (more…)

Stevia

SteviaNative to Paraguay and Brazil, growing stevia is nature’s sweet secret.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 40-60 days from transplant, 90-100 days from seed
Height: 12 to 36 inches
Spacing: 18 to 24 inches apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows

Used widely in South America and the orient, home gardeners started planting stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) when the safety of artificial sweeteners came into question. Stevia leaves are 10-15 times sweeter than refined sugar. Best of all, it’s extremely low in calories and all natural. Plants grow 1-3 feet tall. Perennial, sometimes grown as an annual.

Fact: Stevia is a member of the Asteraceae family which makes it closely related to daisies and marigolds. (more…)

Sage

SageNative to the northern Mediterranean, gardeners are growing sage for its many culinary and medicinal uses.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 70-75 days from transplant, 90-100 days from seed
Height: 12 to 30 inches
Spacing: 18 to 24 inches apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows

A member of the mint family, culinary sage (Salvia officinalis) is a highly aromatic herb with a subtle, earthy flavor. It works especialy well with meats such as pork, lamb and poultry, and is often used in dressings or holiday stuffings. Use sparingly, as sage can be very strong and easily overpower a dish.

Sage is also highly regarded as a medicinal herb where it has been used over the years to cure a long list of ailments from broken bones and wounds to stomach disorders, shortness of breath and loss of memory. Pliny the Elder (23 – 79 AD), a Roman naturalist and philosopher, recomended using sage for intestinal worms, memory problems and snake bites. (more…)

Rosemary

RosemaryRemarkable for its fabulous flavor and good looks, rosemary is easy to grow in containers from cuttings.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 60-75 days from transplant, 90-120 days from seed
Height: 12 to 48 inches
Spacing: 2 to 3 feet apart, 3 to 6 feet between rows

Native to the Mediterranean and favored by many home gardeners, growing rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is popular for its many culinary qualities. The aromatic and pungent leaves may be used fresh or dried and are traditionally paired with poultry, game, lamb and stews.

As an ornamental shrub, rosemary’s rich aroma and beautifil blue-green, needle-like foliage make it a perfect addition to borders or walkways. Plants grow well in containers with good potting soil and can be brought inside during winter months. Tender perennial shrub grows 1-4 feet tall. (more…)

Parsley

ParsleyMore than a table garnish, highly nutritious parsley is easy to grow, even indoors.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 65-90 days from seed
Height: 10 to 20 inches
Spacing: 6 to 12 inches apart, 1 to 2 feet between rows

When growing parsley, home gardeners often select between two common varieties; flat leaf and curly-leaf. Which type you choose depends on your taste:

  • Flat leaf or Italian parsley (Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum) is similar in appearance to cilantro and offers a robust, full flavor. It is the preferred variety for cooking and is often used to add flavor to soups and stews.
  • Curly-leaf (Petroselinum crispum) is coarse with a dark-green flavor and chlorophyll kick. It is often used as a garnish or chopped and added to salads.

This popular culinary herb is an excellent source of vitamins A, E and C, and includes many minerals like iron and calcium. Parsley is also used as a natural breath freshener. Hardy plants grow 10-20 inches tall and make a remarkable border around gardens. (more…)

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