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A Kitchen Herb Garden

October 9, 2013

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A kitchen herb garden can be simple or ornamental, blended with decorative flowers or combined with other edibles. Herbs will thrive in pots on the patio, in raised beds, and in plots-even on a sunny windowsill. The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden-Fresh Cookbook lists the best herbs to grow!

A Kitchen Herb Garden

The following herbs have a range of culinary uses:

Basil, an annual, grows 1 to 2 feet tall in moist soil. Encourage bushy growth by pinching off flower buds. Pick the leaves often, from the top. Use them with pasta, vegetable dishes, soups, salads, and oils or vinegars.

Chive, a perennial, grows 12 to 24 inches tall in moist soil. Harvest the hollow, grasslike leaves in the spring by snipping them close to the ground; they will soon grow back. Chives enliven rice, cheese dishes, eggs, vegetable dishes, dressings, sauces, and dips.

Cilantro/Coriander, an annual, grows 6 to 30 inches tall in light soil and full sun to partial shade. Pick the leaves (cilantro) sparingly when the plant stands 4 to 6 inches tall. Pick the aromatic seeds (coriander) when they ripen. Use leaves and flowers raw in salads and cold vegetable dishes, and the seeds in pastries, custards, confections, and meat dishes.

Dill, an annual or biennial, grows 2 to 3 feet tall. Harvest the leaves when the flowers begin to open; collect the seed heads when they are dry and brown. Use the leaves with soups, seafood, salads, green beans, potato dishes, cheese, and sauces, and the seeds for pickles.

Mint, a perennial, grows 1 to 3 feet tall in moist soil and partial shade. (Mints can be invasive. To prevent spreading, plant them in pots.) Harvest young sprigs and leaves frequently for a bushy plant. Use fresh or dry leaves and stems with roast lamb or fish and in salads, jellies, or teas.

Oregano, a tender perennial, grows 1 to 2 feet tall and tolerates poor soil. Harvest leaves when young and use in any tomato dish. Try it also with beans, mushroom dishes, potatoes, and summer squashes, or in a marinade for lamb or game.

Parsley, a biennial, grows 12 to 30 inches tall in partial shades. Leaves can be curly or flat, depending on the variety. Cut or pinch the leaves as needed. Use fresh in soups, salads, and sauces or as garnish for anything.

Rosemary, a tender perennial, grows 4 to 6 feet tall in neutral to slightly acidic soil. Gather leaves and sprigs as needed for use with vegetables or in lamb, poultry, and tomato dishes; breads and custards; and soups and stews.

Sage, a perennial, grows 1 to 3 feet tall in well-drained soil. Pick the leaves as needed for use in soups, salads, stuffings, cheese dishes, and pickles. Its strong flavor makes it excellent for salt-free cooking.

Thyme, a perennial, grows 12 to 18 inches tall in well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Harvest the tops of the plants when they are in full leaf. Use the leaves, fresh or dried, in casseroles, stews, soups, and ragouts, and with fish, potatoes, green vegetables, and eggs.

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