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Indulging my interest in food and flavor, I love to write about cooking, gardening and life's bounty. My new book - "Discover Cooking with Lavender"- is now available

Saturday, May 01, 2010

My Edible Herb Garden

May 1st is National HerbDay! Events celebrating herbs are happening all around the country. Click here to find an event in your area.  I will be at a local nursery demonstrating how to plant a kitchen herb garden. Having a garden full of herbs is a luxury. Imagine having enough dill to make a sauce to serve with fresh salmon or halibut. Think of cutting fresh rosemary for seasoning chicken or port.  Dream of fresh mint to chop and serve with fresh berries or pineapple.

Fresh herbs add depth and richness to our food. Food is more pleasurable and satisfying.  And somehow this leads me to a more healthy diet. I am happy with smaller portions, and I feel better - healthy and vibrant. Herbs are easy to grow. The ingredients of an edible herb garden are:  six to eight hours of sun daily, very well drained soil, little fertilizing and pruning in the spring for renewal. Many herbs are perennial plants that come back year after year. In the Pacific Northwest where I live, lavender, rosemary, mint and sage are perennials. Basil, chervil and cilantro are grown as annuals. I like to grow my herbs in a container. The herbs planted in my kitchen garden include sage, tarragon, oregano and dill. I have lavender growing in containers, and also in borders. I also plant basil, however I will wait till the nighttime temperature is above 50F before planting. Five Tips for Creating Your Kitchen Herb Garden

  1. Use soil mixes formulated for containers. While it is tempting to fill my container with soil from my garden, I’ve found that this soil is clumpy and does not give the drainage the herbs require. To provide adequate drainage, make sure your container has drainage holes in the bottom. This will prevent the plant from drowning. Use a container large enough to accommodate the plant’s root system and to hold enough soil so the plant gets enough moisture especially in hot weather. I use containers that are at least 18 inches in diameter. Plants in pots need to be fertilized. I use an organic fish fertilizer. I find a biweekly routine to keep my herbs thriving and healthy.
  2. One challenge in container gardening is to group plants in containers according to their needs.  Lavender and Rosemary are draught-tolerant and are at risk for root rot if they get too much water, while basil and chervil suffer when not watered enough. The solution is to group plants together that require similar growing conditions.

 Soil, sun, water and plants are the ingredients for creating an edible herb garden. Want to know more? I recommend Rosalind Creasy’s  book, “The Edible Herb Garden.”

Her book contains an encyclopedia of culinary herbs, recipes and growing tips.

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