Gain freedom from store-bought herbs. Plant your own. Herbs are generally easy to grow, many are perennial in northern regions, and the flavor of fresh picked or home-grown and preserved herbs is so full and intense you may never need to purchase store-bought again. Basil, rosemary, chives, mints, savory, thyme, sage and/or marjoram … You Can Grow That!
On the 4th of each month, C.L. Fornari at Whole Life Gardening urges garden bloggers to champion the virtues of gardening. Many garden bloggers do just that in their You Can Grow That! posts. All of this month’s, as well as previous posts, can be found at the You Can Grow That! website. Go there to dig into the brains of gardeners with a passion for encouraging others to green up their thumbs.
We often think formal when imagining how to incorporate the vast array of of herbs into our planting schemes, but there’s no need a formal herb garden to enjoy the beauty and culinary uses of herbs.
Sage and chives blend beautifully into perennial beds, while thyme and marjoram are great border and edging plants, or trailing plants in a container combination.
Interplant shorter, long-season blooming annuals, such as ageratum, with bush basil for an interesting border, and plant large-leaf basil in pots or as companions to potted or in-ground tomatoes.
Give mint room … lots of room, it can be a thug when left on its own … or contain it into an established area or pot.
This photo is my border, starting from the foreground, of thyme in bloom, blue-green ornamental curly chives, savory, more curly chives, another smaller savory, two young santolina transplants surrounded with various sedum, lavender, and more thyme.
This border combination sets off the edges of the lawn and larger beds planted with common and garlic chives, horseradish, and garlic.
Since the herbs bloom at different times throughout the growing season – chives in spring, thyme and lavender in early summer, curly chives and savory later in summer, and chives, lavender, and thyme intermittently in late summer – they help dress up the more utilitarian neighboring beds.
But … even better … these herbs can be used to flavor summer dishes and be preserved for winter use.
Potted ginger mint, rosemary, and lemon basil are easily snipped and added to summer dishes and beverages. Pair lemon basil with fresh tomatoes, rosemary with grilled chicken and fish, and sprigs of ginger mint with iced tea or mojitos
Minced chive leaves freeze well in small tightly-packed containers while chive blossoms turn plain white vinegar into a tasty, pink-tinged, chive vinegar for dressings. Or, mix minced chives with softened butter, place on waxed paper, and roll into a long, 1” diameter form – like a skinny baguette. Freeze and cut off slices as needed for garnishing warmed breads or baked potatoes.
Thyme, rosemary, savory and marjoram dry well when cut at peak and placed in brown paper bags left in a dry location for a month or two. Once dry, they can replace less-flavorful store-bought herbs for winter meals.
Sage can be cut, tied in bunches, and hung on a hook to dry,
but basils are best preserved as pesto or blended with olive oil into a green slurry and frozen as cubes for winter use in soups and sauces.
You Can Grow That! home-grown herbs can expand your garden design choices and enhance your culinary exploration. After nearly 40 years of growing herbs in my Connecticut gardens, I’m still discovering new ways to grow, use, and store them … and I rarely have to resort to using store-bought.