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วันจันทร์ที่ 8 พฤศจิกายน พ.ศ. 2553

Growing Your Own Herbs


If you enjoy cooking or gardening, or perhaps both, you should consider growing your own herbs at home. There are literally hundreds of herbs that you can grow yourself. Not only do fresh herbs make a wonderful addition to a kitchen garden, but they can also be attractive plants to weave in with other flowers, perennials, and bushes.

When considering what types of herbs to grow, first ask yourself which herbs you use the most in cooking. Consult your recipe box; are there any particular herbs that you routinely buy fresh at the grocery store? If so, these should be your first choices. Also remember that fresh herbs will taste far better than dried seasonings purchased in little bottles. While you may not care for the taste of dried dillweed, you may find that fresh dill is a real treat. When it comes to growing herbs, don't limit yourself. They don't require a lot of space, so start with a variety and see which ones you like best.

When it comes to homegrown herbs, parsley may be one of the most popular choices. Parsley is routinely used in cooking, and freshly cut sprigs of parsley are also commonly used as a garnish to make a plated meal look more attractive. Parsley is grown as an annual, so you'll either have to start new seeds each year or buy young plants from a nursery. There is a saying that parsley seeds must go to the devil and back seven times before they will germinate, simply meaning that if planted all at the same time, you'll see germination from your other herb seeds long before parsley will finally appear. Like many other herbs, parsley is a good choice for growing in containers, and it may be possible to overwinter plants indoors or in a greenhouse.

Chives are a wonderful, almost maintenance-free homegrown herb. A perennial, they will not need to be restarted from one year to the next. Get a good start of chives from a friend or neighbor, plant it in your garden, and they'll keep coming back year after year. Chives also boast attractive purple flowers that can be a nice addition to a flower garden.

Basil is favorite homegrown herb for anyone who loves Italian food. If you grow tomatoes, you should grow basil, too, because tomatoes and basil go together like milk and cookies. Basil is another annual that will need to be restarted each spring, but it can be easily grown indoors from seed and then transplanted into the garden once the soil is thoroughly warmed. Be sure to keep basil pinched back regularly for full and productive plants. And when you see flowers begin to appear, remove them quickly so that the plant does not go to seed.

Rosemary is a very attractive herb to grow, and in most areas it will grow as a perennial if treated with care for overwintering. Rosemary is not easily grown from seed, so to get it started initially, buy a young plant from a nursery and transplant it into your garden or else find a friend who already has some and request a cutting. Rosemary can be grown in containers, but it will need to be brought indoors for winter.

Mint is another favorite herb that can be used in cooking, dried to make teas, and even crushed and bottled for perfumes or to be sprinkled on clean clothes and sheets. There are many varieties of mints to choose from. Spearmint and peppermint are quite common. For something more unique, try pineapple, apple, or chocolate mints. Mint is a perennial, so there will be no need to replant in subsequent years. Take caution, however, before letting mint loose in your garden. Mint spreads rapidly by underground runners and can quickly overwhelm a garden. Once mint has been planted in the ground, it can be nearly impossible to completely eradicate. Mint does grow well in containers, however, and when watered thoroughly before a hard freeze, will overwinter quite well.

The herbs we've discussed are just a few choices. Other possibilities for an herb garden might include tarragon, cilantro, dill, sage, lavender, bay, marjoram, thyme, and more. Don't limit yourself! Herbs are fun and easy to grow, and they don't require a lot of space in the garden. Whether you're an established cook or gardener, homegrown herbs are a wonderful addition to any kitchen garden.


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