How to Grow Fresh Herbs

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A sprig of fresh rosemary. Snipped fresh parsley. Can’t I just use dried herbs in this recipe? You can, but there is nothing quite like the taste of fresh herbs to add a little zest to your food. You can find fresh herbs at your local grocery store, but why not grow your own? It’s easy to do.

Why Grow Herbs?

While herbs are most commonly grown to enhance the flavor of food, they are also beautiful to see and smell as you walk through your garden. Full of nutritional benefits, fresh herbs are bursting with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which promote good health. They also contain unique antioxidants and essential oils to fight against health invaders. Plus, they don’t take up much space, are low maintenance and naturally resistant to pests.

What Should You Grow?

Some of my favorite herbs to grow are basil, Greek oregano, marjoram, parsley, chives, thyme, dill, rosemary, sage, cilantro, fennel and mint. Leaves of these herbs can be harvested throughout the summer and also dried for later use. As the plants mature, you may harvest the seeds or dead-head them to keep them growing fresh new leaves.

Helpful Tips for Getting Started

Whether you choose to grow herbs on a windowsill, in containers outside, in a flower bed or vegetable garden, herbs are easy. Here are some helpful tips:

  • For herbs, purchase plants instead of starting from seed. After all, how many plants do you need of one kind of herb? Seed packets often have hundreds of seeds in them when one or two plants will suffice.
  • Be sure to select healthy looking, green plants that are not pot bound. Often, you can invert a pot and pull the plant out to see its condition.
  • Root-bound plants don’t equal success. Like other vegetables, most herbs prefer loose soil and full sun. Herbs that are woodier, such as rosemary and sage, prefer a soil that is coarser so it can readily drain, while mint is very aggressive and should be kept in a pot so that it cannot crowd other plants.
  • Read up on the herbs’ growing needs before planting.

Growing herbs is so much fun that I try to grow something new every year. I enjoy spending time in my garden rubbing the leaves and inhaling their fragrance whether I cook with them or not, but adding herbs to any meal brings your food to life.

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