Herbal Awareness

Hi! Johnny L. Dose here with another contribution to The Garden Dreamer.

Just a few words about herbs today. First, apart from growing herbs, using fresh herbs in cooking is an art and science and a tasty treat, especially for your guests or your special friend/ partner/ fiancé/ spouse. By the way, there’s a difference between fresh or dried out. Fresh has more water than dried out, duh, but that will make a difference in how much plant material that you add to the recipe. I’ll let you discover what those differences are.

Second, herbs provide a lot of bang for the buck. Herbs don’t take up much space in the garden, some are perennial (plant once, live all year until they don’t), and are simple to grow, i.e. not prone to pests.

Third, herbs pay for themselves. You only need to go to Walmart, Food Lion, Price Chopper, or Piggly Wiggly and check out what a $4.50 packet gets you. Compare the economics of herbs to the other end of the spectrum, e.g., sweet corn. Incidentally, most if not all of the corn you see in the country is feed corn and not what you butter up on the fourth of July. I digress.

So, let’s pick three herbs that we can start now in our home. Sure, you can buy transplants, but why let Bonnie’s Plants have all the fun. They are: Rosemary, Winter Savory and Sweet Basil.

Rosemary: [perennial/in mild climates] is good on chicken and certain cuts of beef, specifically eye-of-the-round. Rosemary seeds are very small. The way to sow them, in my opinion, is to save a food container from a store-bought salad or Chinese food dish. These containers have sufficient depth and have a lid that is free of holes. Fill the bottom of the container with fluffy potting soil (should be wet, but not soaking wet). Lift and drop the container on the counter once or twice to “pack” the soil down, and that’s all. You don’t want the soil packed down from the top. Sprinkle the seeds as evenly as possible across the surface area of the soil. Very lightly push the soil down to improve the soil:seed contact. Put the lid on. If needed, cover any holes in the lid with tape. Put the tray in a kitchen cabinet that doesn’t get much traffic and wait. How long, you ask? I don’t know, but I’ll do mine tonight and report back what I found. Might be a month.

Winter Savory: [perennial] is different from Summer Savory. Good on pork and chicken. Actually, really good on pork. Also, Winter Savory is not commonly found at all garden centers. Pinetree sells the seeds. Plant Winter Savory the same way as described above for Rosemary.

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Winter Savory

Basil (Sweet/ Italian): [annual] is good with anything tomato based, e.g. spaghetti sauce. In fact, a basil pureé with sliced tomato and mozzarella cheese is a nice hors d’oeuvres. I can’t recommend a specific meat dish for fresh basil. The seeds are larger and simple to grow. Same basic strategy for sowing the seeds as above. Since larger, you will want to sprinkle some extra soil on top of the seed to get good coverage and then lightly pack down. Now, these seeds will germinate quickly and will need to be thinned. Also, they will be much faster to come up than the perennials. I will also start some seeds tonight and report back. We will be growing these indoors now. Stayed tuned for future posts on this story.

Anyway, feel free to ask me any questions about my experiences with herbs.

I’ll stop now and save some material for my next post.

All the Best,

Johnny L. Dose

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