If you’re not a keen gardener who wants to spend a lot of their time outside managing a large fruit or kitchen garden, perhaps you would enjoy planting and growing your own herbs. While herbs might not seem as significant as fruit and vegetables, you’ll still enjoy the constant availability of fresh, delicious herbs to flavor your meals with.
What are herbs?
- In general use, herbs are plants with savory or aromatic properties that are used for flavoring and garnishing food, for medicinal purposes, or for fragrances; excluding vegetables and other plants consumed for macronutrients. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs from spices. Herbs generally refers to the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), while spices are usually dried and produced from other parts of the plant, including seeds, bark, roots and fruits.
- Herbs have a variety of uses including culinary, medicinal, and in some cases, spiritual. General usage of the term “herb” differs between culinary herbs and medicinal herbs; in medicinal or spiritual use, any parts of the plant might be considered as “herbs”, including leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, root bark, inner bark (and cambium), resin and pericarp.
Listed in this encyclopedia is an alphabetical list of herbs and spices, in order by their common name. It’s a long list so I won’t add it here. If you want to see it Click Here!
What to grow?
First you’ll want to settle on the herbs that you’ll plant.
You might have a hard time doing this due to the large scope of herbs available.
What do you use in recipes the most? What are the staples you have in your cupboard?
Just recently I was using more than usual of coriander and basil, so I decided to buy the plants because I prefer fresh herbs.
By planting your own collection of those herbs, you’ll save money on buying them from the grocery while having the additional advantage of freshness. Some of the herbs you might start with include rosemary, sage, basil, dill, mint, chives, and parsley among others.
Where to put them?
At the moment, mine are on my windowsill in my kitchen as it is still quite chilly here in the UK as it is only March. When I do plant them out, I want to have them close to my kitchen door for convenience. I will put them in a long planter that stands off the floor when they do go out.
When choosing an area to put your herb garden, you should remember that the soil should have extremely good drainage. If the dirt gets watered and stays completely saturated, you’ve got no chance of ever growing a healthy plant. One of the simplest ways to get round the drainage problem is to dig a foot deep within the soil, and put a layer of crushed rocks down before replacing all the soil. This will allow all that water to flow freely, which will save your plants from saturation in very wet times.
With herbs it is easy to grow them from seed so if you are starting your herb garden in winter or early spring, you could start them off indoors in a propagator or even just on a sunny windowsill. You can alo save money by growing them from seed.
You can also get ready made kits to start off your herb garden.
Many supermarkets now have herbs in pots at a very good price if you want some immediately. Garden centres will also have them of course.
Some herbs grow at a very fast rate. For example, if you plant a mint plant in an open space then it will gradually take over your entire garden before you know it. This did happen to me in the past and it was a lot of effort to get rid of it. Since then, mint only goes in a confined space.
Using the herbs
Ensure your plant is well established and healthy, before removing any leaves or flowers. When you do remove parts for your cooking don’t strip too much off at once. If grown from seed you should wait until your plant has been growing well for a few months before using any leaves. This wait will definitely be worth it, because your plant will bw stronger and healthy, producing well for years to come.
Once you’ve harvested your delicious home grown herbs, you’ll want to use them in cooking. Why else would you have grown them? You can use them fresh or if you have an excess, could dry them out to keep.
Make sure to pick healthy leaves. Then spread them out on a baking tray and putting them in the oven at 170 degrees Fahrenheit or 76 degrees Celcius for two to 4 hours. Keep an eye on them as you don’t want them to burn or disintegrate.
If you would like to store your herbs for later usage, a glass container is best, though plastic will do. Paper or cardboard will not work, because it will absorb the taste of the herbs. During the first few days of storage, you should regularly check the container and see if any moisture has accumulated.
If it has, you want to remove all the herbs and re-dry them. If moisture is left from the primary drying process, it’ll encourage mildew
while you store your herbs. Nobody likes mildew. So if you enjoy herbs or gardening, or both, then you ought to probably
consider setting up an herb garden. It might require a little bit of work at first to line it up for optimal drainage, and pick what herbs you would like to grow. But after the initial hassle, it’s just a matter of harvesting and drying all your favorite herbs.