QUESTION: What are some of the easiest herbs to grow in a new herb garden?
Let’s start with five of the most-used culinary herbs in a kitchen garden, as suggested by gardener Sara Plummer, a member of the Nashville Herb Society:
Needs: Warmth, sun, well-drained soil; water regularly.
Varieties: Sweet basil is the most well-known, but there are other varieties with distinctive colors and flavors, including cinnamon, lemon, ‘Spicy Thai,’ ‘Purple Ruffles’ and many more.
Use in: Pasta sauces and salads, with mild cheeses, in rice dishes, and to make pesto.
Note: Basil is very tender and will be killed by cold temperatures, so don’t be in a rush to plant it if the temperature is not consistently warm. Basil is an annual, but if you let it flower and go to seed in the fall, the seeds will drop to the ground and likely will sprout next year when the ground warms.
Needs: Moist soil in a sunny location; water regularly.
Varieties: The most common chives have purple globe-shaped flowers, but there are also pink- and white-flowered varieties, and garlic chives.
Use in: Eggs, salads, soups, potatoes, broiled meat or fish.
Note: Clip the long, tubular leaves as needed. Cut chives can last in the fridge about seven days; for longer storage, chop them and store them in the freezer. This hardy perennial grows from bulbs, and may need to be dug up and divided every few years.
Needs: Well-drained soil in a sunny location. This is a tender shrub that may be damaged during extreme cold; some varieties are hardier than others (‘Arp’ and ‘Hill Hardy’ are two that do well here).
Use in: Meat, chicken and lamb dishes, fish, casseroles, tomato sauces, egg dishes, vinegars and oils.
Note: Rosemary is evergreen, so you can use fresh leaves all winter if the plant doesn’t succumb to extremely cold weather.
Needs: Well-drained soil, but thyme is tolerant of poor soil and dry weather.
Varieties: There are many species and different “flavors.” Popular varieties include ‘Silver Queen,’ lemon thyme, wild creeping thyme, wooly thyme and others.
Use in: Stews, stocks and marinades, stuffing, sauces, herb butters, oils and vinegars.
Note: Some thyme varieties are upright, some have a creeping habit. Trim thyme often to keep it from becoming woody. Harvest the leaves before the plant flowers.
Needs: Well-drained soil in a sunny location.
Varieties: Some species are more flavorful than others, and some are more suited to decorative uses than culinary, so choose carefully. Greek oregano is a good, flavorful choice.
Use in: pizza, meat, tomato dishes, vegetables, oils and vinegars.
Note: Oregano is a perennial plant, but some are more hardy than others. Pick the leaves whenever you want to use them for cooking. They can also be dried or frozen.
This is a good time to mention the annual Herb & Craft Fair sponsored by First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, coming up this weekend (April 27). There will be herb plants, native and heirloom tomato plants; a few perennial varieties; handmade soaps, pressed-flower cards, garden calendars, jewelry; homemade sweet and yeast breads, spice mixes, gourmet vinegars, mustards, chutneys, jams, jellies and more. 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, 1808 Woodmont Blvd. http://www.firstuunashville.org/herbfair for more details.
Garden events in Middle Tennessee
Carmen Johnston, a Garden Lifestyle Expert for Southern Living Plant Collection, will host a session on spring-inspired ideas using the Southern Living Plant Collection Designer Series container gardens. The event starts at 10:30 a.m. at Home Depot on Moore’s Lane in Brentwood.
National Public Gardens Day at Cheekwood, celebrating public gardens and Cheekwood’s role in promoting environmental stewardship, plant conservation and community education. Live music in the Herb Garden 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; guided garden tours on the hour. Special presentation with Cheekwood president Jane Offenbach at 1 p.m. Learn how to receive free admission at http://www.nationalpublicgardensday.org. More info at http://www.cheekwood.org.
May 11: Spring Festival & Plant Sale presented by the Wilson County Master Gardener Association. Guest speakers, demonstrations, food and concessions, gift baskets, crafts, gifts; flower garden and arboretum tours by tram. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center at Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, Tenn. Free admission and free parking.
Middle Tennessee Hosta Society sale, dozens of hosta varieties available. Sale opens at 8 a.m. at the Maryland Farms YMCA in Brentwood.
Robertson County Master Gardeners plant sale, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. (rain or shine), County Extension Plaza, 408 North Main St. (corner of North Main & 5th Ave.), Springfield, Tenn. For information: http://www.rcmga.org.
May 11: Wilson County Master Gardeners Spring Festival & Plant Sale, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center, Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, Tenn. Speakers, demonstrations, food and concessions, crafts, gifts; garden and arboretum tram tours. Free admission and parking. http://wcmastergardener.org.
May 21: Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee meets at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall. Speaker is Jimmy Williams from Paris, Tenn, on “The Perennial Border from February through December.” Refreshments at 6:30, meeting at 7 p.m.
May 23: Middle Tennessee Hosta Society meets at Cheekwood’s Potter Room, 7 p.m. Featured speaker is Jason Rivers.
Filed under: Grow a Garden, Herbs | Tagged: basil, chives, culinary herbs, oregano, Rosemary, thyme | Leave a Comment »