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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 10:48 AM
Original message
What are the herbs you most like to grow and why?
I have to think up another gardening column, and I thought growing herbs would be a good topic. I have oregano and sage. They're as big as shrubs now.

Is it true that the oils that give herbs flavor are a defense against getting eaten? I think I read that somewhere. Nothing touches the oregano and sage. I'm pretty sure I tried growing basil once, and the snails love it.

So, what herbs do you grow? How do you grow them? What dishes do you use them in?
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 12:31 PM
Response to Original message
1. We have oregano as a perennial and each year we plant .......
....... flat leaf parsley and basil. As the Cajuns call bell pepper, celery and onion their 'Holy Trinity', these three herbs are mine.

The oregano is a pain in the ass because it spreads almost as aggressively as mint (a garden scourge). But its necessary and the fresh is so much better than even cut oregano at the grocery store. The oregano is in a bed bounded by the driveway, the front porch, and a brick walkway. Also planted there are ajuga (aka bugle weed) and periwinkle (aka vinca minor). Since all three are pretty vigorous and aggressive spreaders, they sorta keep each other in check.

The parsley and basil get planted in a nearby bed, on the other side of the brick walk. Critters will get to the basil on occasion, but if we keep it safe when its young, it resists them well enough when it gets established. The parsley survives any damn thing .... including our late fall frosts. All tolled, we get a good 5, and sometimes 6, months of all three fresh herbs. We get and extra month or two (after the first frost) with the oregano and parsley; only a hard freeze kills them for the season).

We've tried sage, but didn't use much of it. I may try some rosemary this year.

We're moving our plantings to a new raised bed salad garden by the back door (assuming I get off my fat ass and build it). I'll move some of the oregano there, plant new basil and parsley, some tomatoes, and maybe peppers, Kirby cukes, and zuchs (just for the blossoms ...... I really don't like the fruit, but Sparkly does).

As for culture ..... let's just say we have anything but green thumbs. Our method is simple. Stick purchased plant in dirt. If it grows .... smile. If not ...... shrug.

Last year, our basil got bit by overspray from our lawn service. It kinda shriveled for a few weeks, but managed to come back. This year, hopefully, in the raised bed, it will be safe from that.
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I think that's about it
. Our method is simple. Stick purchased plant in dirt.

I'm pretty sure that's about all there is to growing herbs. That's why I need more to put in the column.

The sage grows like a weed. I don't use much, either. I don't know what I was thinking when I bought it. It's very attractive, in any case. There are sages people grow just for the appearance. Silvery leaves and purple flowers.
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 08:23 PM
Response to Reply #2
18. I think that's because many (most?) herbs are actually weeds .....
.... in their native habitat.
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vademocrat Donating Member (962 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 01:55 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. I also grow dill - use it with grilled salmon, add a bit to potato salad
I also grow two types of parsley, oregano, basil, and sage. The sage was here when I moved in & it's a beautiful bush. I use it with chicken (especially rotisserie chicken). Like H2S, I just stick 'em in the dirt and watch 'em grow.

Maybe you could also write about growing them in window pots - for folks with apartments... :shrug:

Good luck with your article.
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 04:44 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. Thanks.
I was thinking of the windowsill angle. I wonder what best grows potted. It'd probably be nice to have an herb you use often handy right in the kitchen.
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vademocrat Donating Member (962 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 10:29 AM
Response to Reply #4
27. It's not sage - it's rosemary - a big bush now -
Must've been thinking "parsley, sage, rosemary, & thyme" - Rosemary is great with baked or rotisserie chicken
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cmf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 01:38 PM
Response to Original message
3. My favorite is basil
Together with a tomato plant, it brings us much happiness each summer. My favorite special summer dish is tomato basil tart.

We usually also put in oregano, cilantro and chives.



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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 04:45 PM
Response to Reply #3
9. The snails don't eat the basil?
I love basil. I usually buy it and make pesto. I'm waiting for basil to show up in the farmers market because I ate all the pesto I had in the freezer. Must make more this year.
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cmf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:03 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. No problems with snails
We grow it in a container if it makes a difference. :shrug:

Our strawberry patch does have slug issues, but we devised a pretty good trap. Take an empty margarine tub, cut some holes near the top, fill partially with beer and a little bit of yeast to make it more enticing, put the lid back on, and bury it so that the holes are at soil level. The slugs fall for it every time. Might work for snails, too.
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Tab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 02:26 PM
Response to Original message
5. Last year
I grew Oregano, Sage, Tarragon, Basil, and Rosemary. I have lemon thyme that grows wild (and mint and a few other things).

I ended up using very little oregano and sage and rosemary, although I greatly liked the oregano.

I think this year I'll skip the sage and rosemary, and concentrate on the tarragon, thyme, and basil, all of which I use a lot. The basil last year didn't do so well - I think it got crowded out and needs a lot of warmth (it was a pretty wet summer).
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 04:47 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. I've never tried fresh taragon
Maybe I'll do some of that in a pot. I'm off to the garden center to look for early girl tomatoes this weekend. Now that I'm making money writing about gardening, I can write off anything I buy for the garden. Sweet!
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Tab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 07:51 PM
Response to Reply #10
14. If all you've used is Durkee dried tarragon
then yes, get some fresh tarragon.

The produce section in most supermarkets will usually have leaves of picked tarragon, thyme, basil - fresh herbs - sometimes you can get them still in little pots with dirt (as with cilantro, oregano, and most others).

I like rosemary and sage when roasting poultry, but I do it rarely enough that it's easier just to buy a little fresh herb pack. But tarragon and thyme together, and basil, I use a lot of (particularly basil and tarragon, though not in the same dish), so I wanted to grow them.

But if you've just been using the dried spices, if nothing else, pick up some fresh herbs at the produce section of your local supermarket.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 03:19 PM
Response to Original message
6. I used to have two rosemary plants, which I loved but
rarely used. They got so big they took up too much room in my small garden, so we wound up digging them up and replacing with other stuff. When I did have them, when smoking meat or grilling, I'd throw a few branches on the fire just for a bit more flavor.
If they lived, I'd love to have some lavender plants. They look and smell great, but they die off here in summer from the heat.
Tab, I'd love to hear how your tarragon grows, as I think that's one of my all-time favorite herbs.
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Tab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #6
15. I was surprised by the end of the summer
how huge the plants were, and I live in Northern New England.

I didn't do anything - just bought some starter plants at some garden center (might even have been Wal-Mart for all I know), a third-barrel planter (one of those cut wooden wine casks), but any flower pot would do, some potting soil and plopped them in.

The tarragon grew nice and tall. My only regret was planting rosemary, sage, and oregano in the same planter - I didn't realize how much they'd crowd out the other plants. Since I don't use them as much, I'm just scrapping them this year and holding with the basil, tarragon, and thyme.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 09:30 AM
Response to Reply #15
24. If tarragon grows so well in NE, that could be why
I don't recall seeing it around here; too hot. Thanks!
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Tab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #24
32. Yeah, it was a very rainy summer
I bet basil would do great wherever you are. It really didn't make it here. I've heard it likes it hot and dry.

Tarragon, on the other hand - the damn things were 2 or 3 feet wall. I was afraid I wouldn't have enough... instead, I wasn't able to use all that grew.
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Mr. McD Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 04:20 PM
Response to Original message
7. Thyme, Savory and Tarragon
They are the ones I use most. Thyme and savory I use for soups and such. The tarragon I use in gazpacho and pickled eggs. We also grow rosemary and basil but don't use them as much.
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 04:48 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. I forgot I have thyme
It's getting crowded out by the oregano. Savory sounds interesting.
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japple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:57 PM
Response to Original message
13. Sage, rosemary, oregano, basil, flat leaf parsley, thyme
Last year I grew Cuban oregano, which is highly flavorful as well. It has beautiful green/yellow varigated fleshy leaves. I love pineapple sage which has beautiful red flowers and smells exquisite. It also is not quite as assertive as traditional sage and is great stuffed inside roasting chickens, game hens. I use sage quite a bit--in turkey stuffing, and with pork roast. I am a fanatic about lavendar and plan to put in more this year. One is very large and I hope to get some more hardy varieties that will winter-over. Haven't had much luck with getting Spanish and French lavendars to survive. Thyme, mint, sage, rosemary, eucalyptus, and, of all things, flat-leaf parsley have made it through the (mild) winter in N. GA. The carnations are looking better this spring and I love their fragrance.

Last year I tried growing cilantro in pots and then transplanting it, but that didn't work, so this year, I plan to sow it directly in the garden.

By the way, I set out 27 cabbages, 9 brussels sprouts, 9 broccoli, and 9 lettuce plants last week and then today we hauled in a trailer load of horse manure (with another 4 to go). I'm sore from using muscles that I haven't used since fall and tomorrow I'll probably not be able to move, but it was great today being out in the sunshine working in the garden.
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 08:22 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. Parsley is, technically, a biannual (or is that semiannual?) ....
.... I get confused on the terms ... but it is a plant that will grow for two years and then die. Most people, however, treat them as annuals. Up here in Maryalnd, the remains of the previous year's parsley is up with the crocuses (crocii?). But even though it grows, it looks mutant. The leaves are all thin and spidery-looking. Like a Japanese maple's leaf compares to a regular maple's leaf. It tastes okay, but its creepy looking.
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japple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 01:07 PM
Response to Reply #17
29. The parsley didn't even die back. I had fresh stuff all winter long.
After the caterpillars got through with it last fall, I thought it would die back, so I cut it back to ground level and it grew back thicker and fuller than ever!
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mandyky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 08:10 PM
Response to Original message
16. The only fresh herbs I've even used is parsley
I am considering growing something on the deck this spring, but not sure what.

I'll be watching this thread to get ideas. :)
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eleny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:22 PM
Response to Original message
19. Rosemary!
Rosemary grows so pretty with that look of pine needles. It's easy to grow and saves a heck of a lot over store bought. I stuff my legs of lamb with it every time.

I understand that even in some colder climates it will over-winter in a protected spot if covered with a bell jar. I want to try some this summer in a south facing nook area and keep it covered with something next winter. In ideal climates it can grow pretty tall and bushy. A fragrant treat.

Good luck with your column!
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 10:05 PM
Response to Original message
20. i have a big pot outside the door with rosemary and basil
and I use them on everything. basil is my "secret" ingrediant in beef dishes and salads

the rosemary I use for chicken mostly or pork roasts

i'm gonna add some oregano and parlsey next winter

my basil plant is blooming it's brains out right now so I guess it's time to make pesto huh?
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:12 PM
Response to Reply #20
22. Keep basil flowers pinched and the plant will keep on giving you ........
..... those nice, big, prized leaves. Let it bolt to seed, and it kinda loses steam.
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Shakespeare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 12:16 PM
Response to Reply #22
34. That is the single most important gardening tip for basil!!
:thumbsup:

And during the height of summer, you have to be super diligent about it. I can be heard alternately grumbling and pleading with my riotous patch of basil when it's at its most active. I've never seen a plant that can throw on blossoms with the speed that basil can (and if I don't catch them before the flowers actually open, I save the flowers I do pinch and mix them in with my salads--lovely and tasty).

I grow a few kinds: Profuma di Genova, piccolo (the best for pesto, I think), spicy globe (a fave for mixing whole leaves into salads), and purple opal (makes a gorgeous herbed butter, also lends a lovely gem-like color to basil jelly). I absolutely could not live without this herb, and nothing lends a more beautiful perfume to my summer garden than this plant.

My favorite "new" inclusion in last year's garden (which overwintered OK...so far...) is lemon thyme. We loved tossing in a handful with our fresh green beans for a quick saute.

Sigh....I'm getting impatient for serious garden time!
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Wordie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 10:11 PM
Response to Original message
21. I have LOTS of herbs, all growing in containers.
Edited on Sat Mar-04-06 10:15 PM by Wordie
I have rosemary (2 of them - the ones with fatter, not flat, leaves are said to be better for cooking, btw), sage, marjoram, oregano, parsley, lemon balm, mint, tarragon, chives, garlic chives, and thyme (3 types: common, lemon and creeping), all of which are overwintering in containers. Containers are a great way to grow them, because you can move the containers when you need to. I take the ones that are cold-sensitive off the balcony railing and move them close to the glass doors in the winter. That way, even if the weather gets cold enough that they might otherwise have problems, the location keeps them warm enough that they survive. I also have a few nutmeg scented geraniums (are they considered to be herbs?) and a nasturtium which amazingly lasted outside in a hanging basket well into January and which I've kept alive since by bringing it inside on really cold nights (it had lasted that long; it deserved to live!). Nasturtium flowers are edible and can be put into salads - very pretty. I also have what I thought were leeks but that I'm thinking more and more are really garlic chives. I grow things from seeds I gather from past seasons, so it's possible that I got some mixed up!

In the spring I'll add cilantro (I actually have a few that have just sprouted on their own, from seeds I planted last year, out in a hanging window box), basil, lemongrass (which grows very quickly to be really HUGE, and is ornamental-looking), and a window-box full of mesclun lettuce - I snip leaves off for salads, rather than harvesting the entire plant and the one window box will last me all summer and into the fall. Maybe I'll try leeks again.

I use them in lots of things. I put herbs in scrambled eggs for breakfast (oregano, tarragon, sage, marjoram, both kinds of chives), and use them a lot in the summer in salads and pasta. I make a great rosemary-garlic-lemon roast chicken. I use the oregano and cilantro in a Mexican soup I make, and the mint, cilantro and basil in Thai rice noodle soups.

Herbs are so easy. There's not a lot of fuss generally to caring for them. The major problem I've had is with my sages, as they are really inclined to getting powdery mildew in the damp climate of the winters where I live. Neem oil is the only thing that seems to work, and even that isn't always entirely successful. The chives are highly prone to aphids, and neem oil is again what I've found to be the best plan of attack (it's safe for edibles). I've tried insecticidal soaps, but they just don't seem to do the trick. But mostly all they need is an occasional watering, no more than every other day or so in the heat of the summer. They're pretty forgiving, and will often bounce back even if neglected for a while. You just have to learn what they like in terms of water (generally not a lot) and how much sun to give them.

Being able to snip some herbs for cooking can really be a thing to cheer a dreary day.
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Blue Gardener Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 09:08 AM
Response to Original message
23. I'm going to try herbs for the butterfly garden this year
Dill, parsley and fennel are all larval food plants for the Black Swallowtail butterfly.
And, maybe some basil for homemade spaghetti sauce.
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 09:37 AM
Response to Reply #23
25. Dill is very invasive, keep an eye on that stuff! n/t
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vademocrat Donating Member (962 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 10:35 AM
Response to Reply #25
28. Hmm...mine kind of withered last year -
It's near some mint - which is definitely invasive. Guess I'll plant the dill on the other side of the herb patch this year.

I'm new to herb growing - is dill an annual? Thanks!
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 09:55 AM
Response to Original message
26. Many thanks to everyone!
I went out to look at my herbs yesterday, and I think the dumb oregano is pushing out the sage. The thing is huge. I think I'll hack away at it and see if I can get it under control.

I have to get to the garden center soon for tomato starts, so I think I'll get some herbs in pots. I'll put some in containers outside and try others on the windowsill.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 06:00 PM
Response to Reply #26
30. You might want to research freezing herbs; perhaps you could
do that with some of your oregano. I buy dried Mexican oregano; would also make an appealing Christmas gift if packaged right.
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Wordie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 06:58 PM
Response to Reply #30
31. I froze basil this past fall, so I could have it all winter long.
I froze it in ice cube trays, and then put the cubes in a plastic bag, to use as I needed. It's a little tricky. If you're interested, Wryter, I'd be happy to share what I learned.

Wryter might also want to consider adding a bit of some of the folklore about herbs, and/or the best ways and times to harvest them.

Another thing Wryter might want to consider is the bay area climate, and specific tips for growing them successfully with that in mind. As I mentioned earlier, you can sort of trick the plant, by growing them in pots, and moving them around to different micro-climates in your own environment.
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-07-06 02:46 PM
Response to Reply #31
37. Thanks for your insights
I'm going to let this all roll around in my head for a while. There could be several columns in here.
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 10:00 AM
Response to Reply #30
33. Thanks
That's a great idea.
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DawgHouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 06:13 PM
Response to Original message
35. Rosemary, basil, oregano, chives.
Because these are the only ones that will grow for me! I use them in lots of dishes.
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Lugnut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 11:31 PM
Response to Original message
36. Definitely basil
I also grow flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, chives and tarragon. I tried growing them in planter barrels the past two years but the result was disappointing. It's back to the raised-bed garden for them this year. They seem to grow much better there for some reason.

I use the basil and parsley mostly in pasta sauce. I like rosemary on chicken, tarragon on pork and chives in omelettes and on sour cream topped baked potatoes.
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