Thursday, April 5, 2012

City Herb Garden

Spring came early this year... it hit 80 degrees for a couple days in March and recently it's been reaching the 70's on a pretty regular basis.  We realized suddenly it was past time to plant the herb garden!  We're lucky that we have a small outdoor space ("the cage") where we can keep some plants.  It doesn't get much sun, except for around the edges, so we have a couple long planters that line the border.  
We love having fresh herbs all summer long for so many reasons.  Just a small amount of freshly chopped herbs can enhance any dish- or any cocktail :)  It also saves a lot of money- you only take what you actually need for the dish instead of spending $2 on one herb at the grocery store and then only needing a few leaves or sprigs.  Granted, if you are making a huge batch of pesto you may not have enough basil from a small potted herb garden, but in general this will supply us for the entire summer.  Looking forward to using them in some new recipes!

Here are a few tips before you start your own potted herb garden
1. Try to find a place that gets some sun each day to place the plants, and rotate them every week to make sure they are getting even coverage.
2. Buy potting soil with nutrients.  Your plants need this since they aren't in the natural ground.
3. Instead of starting with seeds, buy starter plants.  Seeds take a really long time to get going so unless you have the patience, starter plants are the way to go.  We got ours on a 50% off sale at Home Depot!
4. WATER! You may not need to water them every day, but trust me... going a few days without water during the hot summer will make your plants look like the are about to wilt to death
5. Don't crowd the plants- they will get much bigger and need space.  Some need more than others so you may want to plant them in their own pot. 
6. Plant a variety- but only herbs you actually like and will use.  Some herbs go a long way (like rosemary) but others (basil, mint) can go pretty quickly.  So plant more than one of the herbs you think you will use the most.
7. Keep the labels in next to the plant if you are "herbally challenged"
8. Harvest often- this will promote more growth in your plants.  Plus, eating them is the best part! 
9. Speaking of eating... make sure you use them.  Fresh herbs are a great add-in at the end of your dish.
10.  Stay legal :)
What we planted this year:
- Thyme
- Spicy Oregano
- Rosemary
- Thai Basil
- Sweet Basil (2)
- Mint (2)
- Flat-leaf Parsley

It's not too late to start on your own herb garden to last your whole summer long!

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