Grow Your Own Herbs

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This morning I was making some matzo ball soup (why when we are in summer the weather screams for matzo ball soup is an entirely different story) and I needed some herbs to put in my matzo balls.  It is so nice to be able to just go out in the backyard and get what I need.  For one, the convenience.  Not having to run to the store every time I have a need for herbs.  Secondly, I know how my herbs are grown.  You can definitely buy organic herbs, strangely, they are a little hard to find where I live and are only carried by a couple stores.  I do not use any pesticides on my herbs, or anything I eat in my garden.  And lastly, cost.  Those little containers of herbs are crazy expensive.  As much as I cook with herbs I would need to sell one of my kids or a kidney in order to use the amount I can get from my garden.

Growing herbs couldn’t be any more simple.  Some herbs I always do from seed, those are cilantro, chives, parsley (I only use flat leaf), salad burnet, a few varieties of basil, and dill.    Others I buy in little pots and plant directly in the herb garden.  I have a few varieties of sage, oregano,  a few varieties of thyme, tarragon, rosemary, and of course mint.

Growing herbs from seed is a game of patience.  Parsley can take a couple weeks before it starts to show signs of life.  Just when you give up on it, something will poke through.  I’ve had a lot of success transplanting parsley.  Cilantro on the other hand can be a bit tricky.  It’s very temperamental and requires a little more care and a gentle hand.  I’ve read many articles that say it doesn’t transplant well, and quite honestly, I agree.  But being the impatient gardener I just take a little extra care and have been pretty successful with it.  I start the seeds in 2″ pots that I’ve saved from previous herb plants.  You could also use the peat pots that are similar in size.  I’m just not a huge fan of those things since they break down so easily and the cilantro will be in them for several weeks.  I let the cilantro grow to a pretty good size in the pot before I transplant it to the herb garden.  When I transplant it I am careful not to disturb the roots much.  I always lose a few, but I also plan for that and plant extra.  The other herbs are a little more forgiving.  But with all transplants, I do take care not to mess with the roots too much.

Except for the cilantro, basil, and parsley, they all come back year after year here in the pacific northwest.  There have been one or two winters that were so bad a few herbs were really thrown for a loop, but for the most part came right back.  I honestly believe anyone can grow herbs.  They are the easiest things, as long as you remember to water them and start them out correctly.  Herbs love sun, so don’t plant them in the shadiest part of your yard.  They do great in containers and boxes which make them great additions to sunny porches, decks patios etc.  I had herb pots in every apartment I lived in.  I couldn’t have a full on garden so I got my fix with my herbs.

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This is the herb garden I put in shortly after I moved into my house.  It gets great sun and seems to be the perfect home for my herbs.  The mint is the one herb you want to be mindful of when you plant.  It goes all crazy and will take over everything.  The roots will spread and even grow out the holes on the bottom of the pots.  I have some lemon balm in almost every corner of my yard, none of which I actually planted.  That one will spread seeds and those little stinkers will grow no matter where they land.  Thankfully, I love the lemon scent.

Bottom line, herbs are great!!  For anyone that likes to cook they are a necessity.

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