Author: Matthew Hick
Herbs are a greatly popular result of gardening - just as popular as flowers, shrubs, trees, fruits and vegetables. Herbs are used to spice up or add a nice spark of flavor to all types of food dishes. They are used for medicinal purposes as well as for their pretty flowers. These are just a few reasons why herbs are so popular among gardeners all over the world.
Have you ever reached for a spice when cooking only to realize you were out of it? Wouldn't it be nice to just go over to your plant and clip off what you need, instead of running to the store or doing without? You can have fresh basil, thyme, sage, chives, dill, rosemary or tarragon right at your fingertips from your very own herb garden.
Herbs can be annuals, biennials or perennials. Annuals will flower one season and then die. Biennials will live two seasons, flower one and then die. Perennials will die in winter but return to blossom each season. If you do choose perennials, make sure you plant them in a place they can be kept year after year.
Herb gardens need little space. You can plant them by seeds or plant clippings. Seeds should be planted in shallow boxes in late winter and can then be transplanted outdoors in spring. Soil is a determining factor of whether your herb garden will thrive or falter. Herbs will not grow in wet soil. So it is important you provide adequate drainage. If you do not have good drainage you can correct this by adding compost and sand to your soil, or digging out 15-18 inches of dirt and adding crushed stone under it to assist in this process.
Herbs also do not need much fertilizer. The more fertile the soil, the less foliage will occur and the resulting herb will have little flavor. There are also very few diseases and insects which will attack herbal plants.
Harvesting herbs should take place in the morning and only after the plant has enough foliage to maintain growth. When picked, they should be washed immediately in cold water. They can be used fresh or dried for winter use.
To dry herbs, after washing, hang until drops of water evaporate. Tie the stems together and place in a bag with the stems at the bag's opening. Close the bag with a rubber band and hang from a line in a cool, dry, dark place. Basements are too damp, so the attic is a better choice. After two to three weeks, remove herbs from the bag and crumble the leaves. Place in a shallow pan and put in an oven on the warm setting. When the crumbled leaves are crispy, store in glass jars or an airtight container in a cool place. They will be ready for you whenever you need them.
There are almost sixty different varieties of herbs to choose from when deciding on what herb to plant. Each variety comes with its own unique flavor. Cooking with herbs livens up bland foods naturally. Add some gusto to your life and use some of the herbs from your very own garden, next time you are preparing a meal.
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