Add edible plants to your garden mix
© Culpeper Times
Herbs are very versatile and grow well in-ground or containers. Herbs make a great addition to a traditional flower garden, and are also a pretty, practical accent to containers near a grill or right outside your backdoor.
Why grow herbs when they’re readily available at your grocers?
Save money in the produce aisle
Fresh herbs can be expensive when you purchase them at your grocers and you won’t always find what you’re looking for. Plus, cut herbs are already harvested and won’t last long. Herb plants keep producing fresh herbs, all season long.
Growing your own herbs, right outside your back door couldn’t be more convenient, and they’re always ready when you are. Herbs are a great choice for containers and you can mix varieties in just one pot. Be sure the container you choose is big enough to accommodate more than one herb and there are holes at the bottom of the pot for proper drainage. Use a premium potting soil, plant, water, and feed your food plants with a plant food of your choice, just be sure to follow label directions. Place pots on your patio in plenty of sunshine (6-8 hours). Pots full of herbs are not only practical they’re pretty!
Shake up your supper
Adding some different (uncommon) herbs to a simple dinner can create a whole new meal. Suddenly, with fresh herbs, even simple side dishes become super flavorful. Add fresh rosemary to potatoes and they’ll burst with fantastic flavor. Your choices are only limited to the herb varieties you select and how daring and creative you want to be with your menu.
Did you know there are more than 30 different types of basil? Your supermarket usually only carries the most common, like sweet basil. Bonnie Plants, the nation’s largest supplier of vegetables and herbs, available at all Home Depot, Walmart and Lowes stores, nationwide, provides some unusual basil varieties, like Purple basil, Thai basil, Cinnamon basil and Spicy Globe basil, any will add a touch of unusual taste to basic recipes. Growing your own herb garden will allow you to cost effectively sample some unusual, even exotic herbs without breaking the bank.
Good for you
Adding fresh herbs to your diet is a great way to boost your meal’s vitamin value, but that isn’t the only health benefit you’ll reap. Gardening is good for you. It provides some exercise through digging, bending, and stretching and it’ll get you outdoors in the sunshine. Gardening can also be a stress-reliever, plus herbs have beautiful aromas that your sense of smell will relish.
Practical and Pretty
Adding an herb garden to your home’s landscape gives your yard real curb appeal. Most herbs are just as pretty as shrubs and flowers. You can even add them or create herb borders to your existing flower beds if you don’t have room for just an herb garden. Herbs blend in beautifully.
Getting started is easy. First, try using transplants, like Bonnie Plants, rather than seed. All the hard work associated with seed germination is already done for you and herbs are ready for planting and harvest.
Planting and growing herbs is a great project for kids, too. Let kids pick out a container and some herb plants. Buy a premium potting mix and a good plant food; food plants are hungry! Try Bonnie Plant Food- it’s all natural, won’t burn plant tissue, and it’s the same plant food Bonnie Plants uses in the greenhouse production of veggies and herbs, nationwide.
Kids can plant up a container of herbs with just a bit of help. They’ll take ownership of the herb pot, can easily harvest herb leaves themselves and just might try some new taste sensations they wouldn’t have tried otherwise, since they’ve grown the herbs themselves.
Plus, gardening will get kids outside in the sunshine.
All herbs are easy and great to grow. Choose varieties you’ll use such as basil, oregano, parsley, and rosemary. Spice it up and pick some herbs you haven’t tried for some new taste sensations.
Tips on saving, storing herbs
Don't let all of your hard work dry up and blow away at the end of the growing season.
Dry the herbs to use later in the year. Here are a few tips on how to save and store:
Drying works well for herbs like oregano, thyme, marjoram, and sage. Before drying, shake to remove dirt and discard any withered leaves. (You can gently wash the herbs, but be sure to dry them thoroughly).
Secure the stems together using a rubber band or string and hang upside down in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place away from sunlight. Leave herbs hanging to dry until the leaves crumble, it can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks to dry herbs thoroughly.
Dried herbs can be stored in an airtight container for up to a year.
Freezing is the best option for leafy herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, and tarragon. You can chop the herbs and add to cells of an ice cube tray, then top off with water. Ice cubed herbs are easy to use, just pop them out of the tray and add to cooking.
Hard herbs, like rosemary and thyme, can simply be rinsed, dried with a paper towel and popped in a zipper bag for freezing.
You can even infuse herbs in olive oil or vinegar. All you need is a clean bottle filled about one-third of the way with fresh herbs that have been well rinsed and patted dry. Pour the oil or vinegar over the herbs and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for about two weeks. You can add the tasty mixture to cooking or to salads.
Herbs can be used in cooking, incorporated in desserts; strawberries and basil pair amazingly well together, especially when served over vanilla ice cream, and they’re a great addition to flavoring drinks; try basil in spiced tomato juice or add in pineapple juice with lime and club soda. You can even add blueberries and lavender to pink lemonade.
They say herbs are the “gateway to gardening” so try some and get growing. To find more information on herbs, herb gardening, How To videos, tips and solutions visit; www.bonnieplants.com.
Cooking is not the only way to use herbs.
They can also help spice up your favorite
beverages. Courtesy photo.
Planting and caring for herbs is a simple project that even kids can do or help with.
There are more than 30 varieties of basil,
including purple basil, which is easy to
grow and aethestically pleasing.
The bright colors of petunias contrast well
against the vivid green of mint. Courtesy photo.