Food/ Green Living

Flavor in Your Front Yard: Starting an Herb Garden

 

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)

front-yard-Herb-gardenBasil: 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?

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  • Dana
    February 25, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Hey! I’m not sure how to contact you, so I thought I’d just leave a comment. I’m here in Tallahassee. Is there a local bookstore where I can buy your freezer cookbook, or do I need to order it online? Thanks!

    • Stephanie
      February 26, 2013 at 2:37 AM

      Hey Dana! You can get a print copy at The Polka Dot Press on the north side of town, Market Street shopping district. 🙂

  • Lisa Waszkiewicz / Franny Bolsa
    February 25, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    I’m moving my herb garden from the back yard to the front this year. More room for the veggies out back and it’ll brighten up my front yard. Nothing beats walking out the door and grabbing a few flavor accessories for dinner. Rosemary, Thyme, oregano and basil are my favorite.

  • Anabolio
    February 26, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    Wau, this is interesting. An i thought it is weed in my Garden 🙂 I need to study more as I see 🙂

  • Shary
    June 12, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    Do you know if I can plant a plethora of herbs in one big pot? We don’t actually have outside space, but I take my strawberries out every morning and bring them back in in the evenings. I guess I could get a multi-pot carrier or something… Do you have any suggestions for those of us without a yard?

    • Stephanie
      June 13, 2013 at 2:31 PM

      One big pot would work great. I actually just moved to a small, rental house so I will be perfecting the art of container gardening soon and will have more to share later.

    • Teri Page
      June 18, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      The one thing with planting in a big pot is that some herbs don’t play nicely with others. For example, mint needs its own space. If planted with others, it will most likely take over. I learned this the hard way. Quick internet research should help you figure out what is best for your area. I have sage, basil, and Mexican oregano growing together and they are great. Also for small spaces you can get stackable pots to save space.

      • Haley
        June 19, 2013 at 1:08 PM

        True! You have to be careful with mint 🙂