Spice Up Your Garden

Broaden your approach to gardening by growing easy-to-care-for herbs to use in your home.  Plant exotic culinary herbs, like coriander for enhancing Mexican food and cumin for Indian, or simply plant herbs you can use for everyday meal preparation.  Save money on scented products for the home by growing fragrant herbs like lavender, which can be cut for wreaths, potpourri and sachets.  Or make your own teas from dried herbs like mint.  Most herbs thrive in full sun and require at least 5 to 6 hours of sunlight per day.  Whichever you choose, herbs are easy to grow and maintain – the more you harvest, the more the plant grows.

3 Great Ways to Grow Herbs

Raised Herb Garden DesignHerb Garden
Select a sunny spot to create this kitchen garden combination of dill, feverfew ‘Golden Ball’, red-leaf lettuce and purple cabbage.

1.    House herbs in a framed box made from 2 x 12 inch lengths of weather-resistant wood.

2.    Fill the box with nutrient-rich bagged soil and compost.

3.    Plant feverfew ‘Golden Ball’ or French marigolds along the edge of the bed to create a border.  Both plants have the added benefit of having aromatic oils that repel insects.

4.    Add to the center of the bed fast-growing dill, purple cabbage and red-leaf lettuce.

5.    Harvest dill seeds once the blossoms fade and use them in fish, egg or cucumber dishes.

Red Window Box Planted with HerbsHerb and Flower Window Box
Mix herbs and flowering annuals to create a window box that is both beautiful and practical.

1.    Buy herbs and flowers in 3- and 4-inch pots so you don’t end up with plants that are too big for the box you’re planting.

2.    Choose a window box made of decay-resistant material that is at least 6 inches deep by 6 inches wide.

3.    Put potting soil into the box until it is two-thirds full and then arrange the plants in the box to determine how to position them.

4.    Place tall, upright plants in the back, round and full plants in the middle, and trailing plants along the edges.

5.    After finding the right placement, take plants from pots and plant them in the desired spots.

6.    Fill in holes between plants with more soil, but make sure to keep it level an inch below the top of the container to avoid soil runover when watering.

Pots of LavenderSingle Planting Containers
Containers potted up solo style create a sophisticated way to display your herbs.  This method is also good if you only want to grow a few herbs or the plant has special growing requirements.

1.    Try container planting if you have limited space.  Just choose your favorite herbs and pop them in a pot.

2.    Use containers for finicky herbs, such as Spanish lavender, which require exceptional soil drainage and protection during cold weather.

3.    For the budget conscious, start out slow – try growing just a few herbs at a time.

Discover a World of Flavors

Pineapple Mint – Add the cream and green leaves of pineapple mint to chopped green and fruit salads, or use it as a pretty garnish for summer drinks.

Salvia ‘Icterina’ – Substitute salvia ‘Icterina’ for any recipe that calls for sage.  Its fresh leaves make a tasty addition to roast chicken or turkey.

Thyme ‘Doone Valley’ – Garnish light summer meals and salads with the fold-streaked leaves and delicate pink blossoms of thyme ‘Doone Valley’.

Lavender ‘Quasti’ – Flavor desserts like cakes, sorbets and ice cream with lavender ‘Quasti’, or use the highly fragrant foliage in potpourri or wreaths.

Rosemary ‘Tuscan Blue’ – Perk up grilled chicken with the drought-tolerant rosemary ‘Tuscan Blue’.  The spiky leaves’ distinct taste enhances roasted potatoes as well.

Basil ‘African Blue’ – Grow basil ‘African Blue’ in containers – its flowers make a dramatic addition to a culinary bouquet.  Or use the leaves to top a favorite pasta.

Variegated Scented Geranium – Spike puddings and cakes with the range of fragrances (from lemon and lime to ginger or nutmeg) of variegated geranium leaves.

Chives – Use chive leaves and blossoms in your favorite dishes.  Chives are a mild-flavored relative of (and great substitute for) onions, garlic, and shallots.

Pineapple Sage ‘Golden Delicious’ – Try the bright yellow-green foliage of pineapple sage ‘Golden Delicious’ (it smells of pineapple) on pizza, focaccia, gnocchi or pasta.