Top Three Herb Garden Plants
Here are my top three herb garden plants. That is, if you’re primarily gardening for culinary herbs. With this list in hand on your first trip to the nursery, you’re bound to have success in finding what not only works in your yard but choices that will mesh well with your taste buds.
1. Basil Plants
Basil is the best herb for pesto, hands down. Its leaves have a warm and spicy flavor. You need to only add a small amount of this delightful herb in such dishes as soups, salads and sauces. Basil is also particular suited, by the way, to season anything dish with tomato flavoring. Don’t hesitate to use basil to enhance the flavor of your meat, poultry or fish. You can even add it to your morning breakfast omelet.
You’ll want to start your basil plants early in the spring, preferably in a greenhouse or a sun-drenched windowsill. Early in the summer transplant this herb to your garden. Or, if you have the courage, sow basil seeds directly into her garden early in the spring. Or you may want to try your hand at both methods, just in case those seeds don’t catch.
Who doesn’t love some fresh chives on a hot, newly baked potato? If you’re as mad about this herb as me, then you’ve already noticed that chives have a mildly onion taste. This makes them an excellent addition to salads, any egg and cheese dish, cream cheese, sandwich spreads and sauces. And, oh, by the way, don’t restrict chives to just the baked potato. Taste how in adds a little zing to your mashed potatoes as well.
If you plan on growing chives from starter plants, then you’ll want to get these into your garden in the early spring. And you’ll want to give these plants plenty of room. My recommendation is to plant them a good 9 to 12 inches from each other.
If you plan to plant the chives seeds, then plant them in the fall or the spring, digging down a good half inch and setting the seeds in rows that are spaced about 12 inches apart.
Now here’s a versatile herb. Its versatility is so great that different parts of this plant are known as different herbs. Grinding the dried seeds to use them in your meats, like veal, ham or pork? You’re using coriander. Using the leaves to add to some Indian or Asian dishes? You’re actually using cilantro.
And of course you can use the roots of coriander as well. If you can’t use them right away, don’t worry you can freeze these. They can be used to flavor soups. Or chop the roots and serve with avocados. You’ll find this deliciously delightful!
Even a novice herbalist should have no problem growing coriander from seeds (I know I did it my first time around and there was no novice who was more naive and at a loss than I!).
Sow these seeds in the early spring. Dig a hole about ¼ inch in depth. Plant them in rows that are just about a foot apart. Once the seedlings appear, you’ll want to thin them down some, making sure they’re at least 6 inches from the other.
Use Fresh Herbs
Tiny as they are, herbs are enjoyable and easy to grow. Using them in your cooking allows you the possibility to change the flavors in your dishes in different ways. The freshest of them are great in soups, stews, vegetables, pasta, salads and breads.
Different kinds of herbs create different tastes in foods. If you are new to using herbs, work on them slowly, adding just a little at a time will help you adjust as you go along until you have it just right. As you get used to cooking with herbs, you will learn the best ones that can be associated with particular foods. Storing herbs is also not difficult. Even fresh ones will keep in the refrigerator for several days. But once herbs are frozen, remember that they would be best when only used in cooking and not as garnishes.
For instance, basil is paired with tomatoes, oregano with sauces, rosemary with roasts, and chives with butter or cream cheese. Although these herbs are not limited to these items, you will see them paired most often these ways. If you think oregano can be ideal for a particular food you have in mind, use your imagination and go for it. You never know your experiment will discover you a new-fangled recipe perfectly flavored with the herb.
You will also see that even the simplest meal may seem like a gourmet delight, no wonder why gourmets are masters in associating herbs with food. You can even make herb vinegar for your salad dressing and herb oils that you can use for recipes that call for oil. You can create your own robust-tasting marinades and herb-inspired spreads and rubs. You can make herb butter by mixing butter with minced fresh herb. You will find it fun using your own herb mixes every time you prepare a recipe that calls for vinegar, oil or butter. Really fun, isn’t it?
Imagine how fresh herbs can dress up any dish and make it spectacular-looking. Envision how you can lay individual sprigs of rosemary over your roasts, how you can garnish grilled fish with minced basil, and sprinkle chopped parsley over your potato salad. I like chopping a fresh herb and mix the green pieces in my pale salad dressing. The effect was awesome, and my salad entrée really turned out sparkling. With your own creativity, you can make endless combinations and delicious outcome.
In my little garden, I love growing basil, parsley, oregano, lemon balm, mint and a few others. Mint can over run your garden so growing them in individual cans to prevent the herb from “creeping” all through your garden is worthwhile. My wife makes an instant natural face mask using basil, lemon and avocados. She would pulverize a handful of basil by blending it on high, then throw in half of an avocado and a teaspoon of lemon juice. I tried the trick and there was nothing like an all-natural face mask fresh from my garden!
These are just a few ways you can use fresh herbs from your garden. There are still a lot of fun techniques of using herbs that you can learn for your own culinary style and recipes. But first, start planting your herbs.