Sprinkling some well chosen fresh herbs on your dish is one of those seemingly trivial steps that reaps huge rewards. It is amazing how a few well-chosen bits of herb can elevate a dish, making it looks better, tastes better, and easily pack in way more nutrients. I used to shy away from buying fresh herbs (they can be so expensive!!), and I never seemed to need as much as I would purchase. I always felt like I was wasting both the herbs and the money.
That being said, I always want my dishes to look all fancy and professional, so I decided, why not grow my own? I’ve always loved playing in the dirt. Small-time backyard gardening has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I can’t say I have the greenest thumb; I subscribe to the Darwin theory of gardening — I’ll do my best, but if the plant isn’t tough enough to roll with my less than stellar gardening abilities, and the foggy climate where I live, it has to make room for plants that will.
Through trial, and more error than I care to admit to, I have learned that perennial (meaning the plant keeps growing year after year) herbs such as oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, lavender and fennel do better than annual (the plant grows for one season, then flowers and dies) such as basil, dill, chives, cilantro. That said, I do keep trying. I’ve sorta gotten parsley and cilantro to work. Basil is one of my favorites, so I still buy it when it’s in season ( I can’t resist the beauty, the smell, the decadent calling out of the summer season)… they should make a basil cologne! One of my favorite uses for basil is Basil Almond Pesto.
Whoops, that was a basil-induced tangent…At the moment, my yard is the victim of some house renovations, so I haven’t been able to plant anything. But I want my herbs! So I have decided to attempt to grow them in a pot. Here is a quick how-to on planting herbs in a container:
Step 1: Fill a planter nearly to the top with good organic potting soil*, leaving a few inches at the top edge. Most small herbs now come in biodegradable pots that can be broken and composted. Don’t forget to loosen up the roots after removing the plant from it’s pot.
Step 2: Plant the herbs with enough room to grow (that little plant label that comes with will give you the specifics). Make sure to cover all their delicate roots…
Step 3: Water in the new herbs really well, they need water after planting. I try for watering enough that the water starts to run out the bottom of the pot…
That’s it! Don’t forget to water once or twice a week depending on how hot and dry it is. And in no time you’ll be enjoying the culinary delights of fresh herbs!
*Finding a local nursery that you enjoy visiting is a great help. I am lucky to have a wonderful, well-stocked nursery with super knowledgeable people near where I live. Your nursery staff will have recommendations on the best soil, and plants for your area. I got these herbs and the soil from Berkeley Horticultural Nursery. They are wonderful!
I love playing in the dirt, it’s half the fun of this whole process. And I think this little oregano plant appreciates the TLC.
Some herbs, like chives, need to be separated. It’s worth the extra time and effort. You’ll get happier chives…
Make sure to bury all those delicate roots.
A good watering after everything is planted is essential!