Monday, April 15, 2019

Who Loves Herbs??

As a General Rule, Herbs Keep Giving!!  

Seriously.... I you have never planted herbs in your garden, let me share a little secret with you that you may not have known.  Many of them, come back year after year and just keep on giving.  

Herbs come in all shapes and sizes and many of us have our favorites, but let me share with you some of the ones that we have growing in the garden right now, early April in zone 5 here in Eastern Oregon. 


Lets start off with the that has surprised me the most.  Last spring I started a few plants in my small greenhouse and was pleased to see the parsley do so well.  I end up with a decent number of plants that survived and into the garden they went.  We were checking in on a client, building some cages over the planter boxes we had built for her to keep the birds out of her strawberries and I was blown away by the size of the parsley growing in one of her boxes.  She shared with me that it was from last summer and it had come back early this spring.  I had no idea idea Parsley did that, so I had new hope for my plants and sure enough, a year later, they are coming back as strong as ever.  As it turns out Parsley is Biennial, which means it grows its first year, and then in its second season, it flowers and develops seeds.  I will let you know if the second year stems and leaves taste as good as first years, but I imagine they will as long as I get at them early before they have a chance to flower. 


Mint is a very tricky plant to grow.  My first experience with it was a bit of a night mare, as I unknowingly planted it into a garden bed next to my shed.  Within a season or two I had mint growing on all sides of the shed, coming up in brick paths.... it was a mess.  Mint reproduces by sending out runners from its roots, and given room to roam, those roots can reach... well on all side of a 16 x 12 foot shed in just a couple seasons.  In our area, they are very hardy and do well. 

After that experience I have learned that the best way to keep mint for me is in pots.  I keep three or four large pots down in the garden to plant different mints in.  By the second season the roots have spread to fill the entire pot usually and whatever variety I have will be in great supply throughout the growing season.  This season I have Moracan Mint, Apple Mint, and Grapefruit Mint all coming back and am anxious for my first round of fresh mint tea here soon.  They just about have enough growth I can start harvesting some here and there.  I also love adding fresh mint to salad as it adds an interesting and unexpected pop to the flavor profile.


I have a sage plant tucked into the garden and its tough as nails.  I wasn't sure it would make it when I transplanted it from its original spot, but it has and grew all last season which was its second or third year.  I just cut it back this spring as it was getting a bit rough around the edges, so we will watch and see how it reacts to that treatment.  Its such a unique plant with its silvery leaf color, I love what it adds to the garden.  We don't use it much for cooking honestly, but hopefully that will change some this season as I attempt to do a bit more cooking with our produce.  How do you use fresh sage?  


The thing you have to understand about fresh dill, is that if you let it go to seed, you will have more dill than you know what to do with for years to come after that.  It is after all called dill weed, no doubt due to its incredible reproductive capacity.  I happen to love making fresh, salt brine pickles each year and having fresh dill on had is a nice addition to the mix.  Its also great added fresh to veggie dips, or used to cook fish.  

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is related to the mint family, but like cat mint, doesn't have the roots that run wild throughout the garden.  They might spread a bit, maybe two feet or so in diameter, but in general they behave.  Our typical plan for them is to enjoy them in the spring, maybe have a couple rounds of fresh tea, or just grab some leaves in the garden and rub them together for a good smell.  Then, as they start to get a bit leggy, we cut them way back to the ground to force a second round of fresh, new growth.  You do have to be careful about flowering as I think the seeds can carry a bit and I did find a new lemon balm plant in the bed adjacent to where the main plant is growing.  Never hard to tell if a plant is lemon balm....just crush a leaf and take a sniff.... so amazing!  

Those are the main herbs we currently have growing.  I have tons of basil started in the greenhouse right now, and would love to get my hands on some cilantro seeds to try as well.   There are tons of other great herbs out there, chives, garlic, thyme, and even exotic ones like shiso (a Japanese herb) and lemon grass. 

If you have room in your garden, consider dropping in a few herbs.  If you have never grown them, you might be surprised by how fun they are to grow, and how much flavor they have in their fresh form to make your next meal, something special.

If you are into this sort of thing, there is more information throughout the posts on this blog. We also have some info over at our website which you can view here. There is loads of information about gardening, a whole section on animals and composting, and even some ideas about home remodeling!  Come check it out.  We'll keep posting here on the blog, and do our best to continue to add more content to the website as well

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