The Garden Lady: This herb’s for you

In spite of the extreme heat, herbs have been consistently growing and producing in my garden, with little to no water. I enjoy daily harvest of sage, rosemary, basil, mint, oregano, lemon thyme and parsley. Herbs are the least fussy edible you can grow; in fact most of them thrive on neglect.

What kind of conditions do herb enjoy best:
Light – at least half a day of full sun, most will take full day sun. They don’t like shade.
Soil – Good drainage is needed. If planting in a container use a soil mix with expanded shale. If planting in the ground amend with compost and expanded shale.
Water – Easy does it, most herbs like to be a bit dry. Right now I water mine once a week, mostly, or when I look out the window and see them drooping.
Fertilizer – I would not do anything but add a thin layer of compost twice a year. Not really necessary.
Mulch – Yes! Yes! Yes! That is one reason I don’t have to water very often. Add a good 2-4 inch layer of mulch. I prefer cedar mulch for the color and aroma, but native hardwood is good too.

The following herbs are the most common in our area. I’ve listed when to plant them and what they are used for in food and medicines.

Basil – There are many varieties of basil, the most common being Sweet Basil. It loves full sun and you can plant it by seed outdoors when the soil is warm, early summer. It is great to cook with in stir frys or on a sandwich, in a salad. It is said to be good for digestive problems.

Cilantro – Plant by seed in Spring and Fall. It will last through a mild winter. After the temperatures warm in late Spring the plant will shoot into flower and then seeds form. The seeds are also edible. I use fresh leaves in salads, sandwiches and my salsa. This one is also said to help fix digestive problems.

Dill – Also good for Spring and Fall plantings. This is where the cucumber gets its dill! The seeds are also yummy in beans, salads, and soups. Dill tea is said to reduce nervousness.

Garlic – Plant cloves in October for a June/July harvest. I put garlic in everything from eggs to salsas and it is on every sandwich and stir fry. It is said to help prevent colds, kill bacteri, and keep vampires away.

Lemon Grass – Plant after the last frost and bring in clumps before the first freeze. Taste great in stir fry dishes and it is said to have antiseptic qualities to help with colds and flu.

Mint – There are many different kinds of mints. I have successfully grown spearmint, chocolate mint, peppermint, pineapple mint, lemon mint, and apple mint. Mint will tolerate some shade, but not much. Plant any time during Spring and Fall. Use the flavor any food savory or sweet. The medicinal effect to help with colds is best taken as a tea.

Oregano – You can start seeds indoors in the winter or transplants in the Spring. Mainly considered the Italian herb, Oregano is said to treat coughs.

Parsley – Plant transplants in Spring and Fall. I prefer the Italian flat-leaf parsley and you can use it in anything you are eating. Parsley is very high in vitamins C and A and is said to help fight cancer.

Rosemary – A happy rosemary plant can be 5X4 feet and withstand most winters. It is evergreen and can be used in most cooking dishes. I used them as skews for veggie kabobs this summer. It is said to have antiseptic qualities. Plant rosemary transplants year-round.

Sage – It isn’t just for turkey time! My personal favorite, and along with garlic, I put it in everything I eat. Plant from transplant in Spring or Fall. In addition to putting it is salads, sandwiches, beans, breads and more some folks use it in beer. It is said to help with memory and digestion.

Thyme – Plant transplants in the Spring. You can use the fresh leaves in most foods. Made into a tea it is said to relieve cold symptoms.

Happy planting!

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  • Talya L. Boerner

    Herbs are the only thing I can grow these days. I have enough oregano for an Italian restaurant! Enjoyed the article.