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It’s still wintry and chilly outside, but it’s time to start planning for your Spring garden. And for those of us in the deep south, spring gardening is already in full swing now that we’re had our last frost (fingers crossed!). If you’ve never tried out your green thumb before (and even if you have) an herb garden is an easy and useful way to start. If you’re gardening with limited space, like many of us in the urban gardening crowd, it’s important to know how to get the most out of the space you’ve got. Herbs are a great place to start since they are easy to grow and can even thrive in containers if you don’t have space for a garden bed. They’re also a breeze to harvest, just snip some leaves off! Fresh herbs make everything delicious, but they cost an arm and a leg at the store. It’s so gratifying to snip some of your favorite fresh herbs right outside your front door to add to your meal and make it really splendid.
Gardening is so different in every climate, so it’s important to explore what grows well where you are. Here’s what we grow in our herb garden in North Florida along with some easy ways to use each herb:
Perennials (Come back for multiple years without replanting)
Sage: Cooking with sage is a recent discovery for me since we’re new at growing it. It is so delicious, especially paired with sausage or squash.
Oregano: Great in tomato sauces and Italian food in general.
Rosemary: The first fresh herb we started cooking with and still a favorite in our home. Roast some potatoes with Rosemary for an easy side and it will also make your house smell incredible.
Thyme: Add sprigs of fresh Sage, Oregano, Thyme, and Rosemary to the pot when you’re making chicken stock to give it a rich and yummy flavor.
Peppermint: I love sending my three-year-old out to pluck a few peppermint leaves so we can brew peppermint tea together from ingredients right outside our front door.
Wondering how many to plant? Our family of four usually gets by with one plant each of Sage, Oregano, Rosemary, and Thyme. Rosemary plants get huge, but luckily they’re very attractive and we prefer them as decorative plants over the more traditional boxwoods. As for peppermint, we often have two or three containers of these herbs in different varieties.
Annuals (Must be planted each year)
Basil: This summer-thriving herb is a must for Italian food or Thai food. And when you are overflowing with end-of-the-summer basil, you can always make pesto and freeze it for a later date.
Dill: I love the combination of lemon and dill! It’s a lifesaver when I realize late in the afternoon that I never planned dinner and the fresh dill makes a last-minute tuna salad taste heavenly. Especially if you have some green onions to add!
Parsley: If there’s an herb that’s good in everything, this is it. We use it all the time!
Cilantro: So delicious and a necessity in various kinds of ethnic food! Guacamole or spring rolls, cilantro is key.
For these herbs, you will want to plant several of each every year if you do most of your cooking at home. There are few dishes that can’t be improved by adding one of these herbs!
Do you have an herb garden? What herbs are you constantly using in your kitchen?