Growing your own herbs

January 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

We like to cook with fresh herbs.  On occasion (as in desperate), this means picking up those expensive cello-wrapped bundles that are found in the produce section of the grocery store.  Why should I have to pay $3 for a few sprigs of rosemary?  The price of grocery store herbs is ridiculous.  A long time ago, I pretty much stopped buying my herbs from the grocery store.  Oh sure, sometimes the grocery store herbs are my only option.  When that happens, I just grit my teeth, pay the money, and then vow to never let it happen again.  The local farmer’s market tends to offer herbs at a much more reasonable price, so we are usually able to make purchases there guilt-free.

Fortunately for us, we live in a fairly warm climate.  This means that we can pretty much grow our own herbs year-round.  We have a small patio off our Master bedroom, in which we grow several pots of herbs.  Because our little patio is close to the house, the herbs are relatively protected from the elements.  When freezing temperatures are anticipated, everything that we care about moves into the bedroom, and for a few nights Dave and I sleep amongst a jungle of herbs, orchids, palms, pomegranates, and potted citrus trees.  Unlike last year, where we experienced a month of freezing temperatures in January, this year seems very warm.  We’ve had one freezing night, which didn’t quite reach to our Gulf coast community.  Herbs that we planted in Spring 2011 are still going strong, and producing plenty of fresh seasoning for our meals.  Almost every evening I find myself on the patio taking a few clippings for our dinner.

If you’re interested in growing your own herbs, I’m here to tell you that you can.  I grew up in a big city, had little experience with growing anything in dirt, and now find myself a bit of a farmer.  If I can do it, then you certainly can.  Growing your own herbs is easy.

Do you live in the city in a high-rise apartment?  In a subdivision?  In an apartment community?  Or maybe you are like us…living on the outskirts of a large city on a modest chunk of land.  Wherever you live… you can grow your own herbs.  This is the time of year in fact, to begin thinking about what you’re going to grow, and where you’re going to grow it.  Although Dave and I are planning a big vegetable garden this year, we are also planning our usual potted herb garden.  Herbs do very well in pots, so why not plant a few for the kitchen?  The pots don’t cost much, the soil is $3 – $4 a bag, and the herbs themselves can be purchased at the grocery store, so what are you waiting for?

For our kitchen, here’s what we have growing year-round (in pots of course):

Basil

Cilantro (not a favorite of Dave’s, but definitely one of mine)

Dill (another one of my favorites)

Italian Parsley

Lavender

Marjoram

Russian Tarragon (really, my most favorite herb of all, and I am so grateful to my friend Olga for finding this for me last fall)

Sage

Tarragon

Thyme

Not in pots, but growing in the dirt in various beds around the house, we have rosemary and bay.  The bay is a tree, but the rosemary is growing in several places around our property as landscaping.   It actually makes a nice shrub, and I’m seriously thinking of planting it along the front fenceline of our land to serve as a buffer between our house and the road.  Rosemary seems to enjoy growing anywhere, and it adores the poor treatment that I give it (thank goodness).  It likes arid soil, appreciates being left alone, and is ideal for lazy gardeners like me.  Dave is one of those more active gardeners, and a few years ago he trimmed back one of our rosemary plants, thinking that he was doing it a favor.  The poor plant almost didn’t survive Dave’s “assistance”…we almost lost it.

The longer I live, the more I realize that when I leave things alone, the better they are (let that be a lesson to us all).

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