Growing and using a variety of herbs is a fairly new thing in my household. When I was growing up my mom planted mint for peppermint tea and a little bit of basil and dill for cooking and canning. Today I plant all those herbs and more. With the advent to herbs readily available in supermarket, growing herbs in the garden or in your house has declined. However with the increase in the popularity of getting back to nature and saving money the realization that fresh herbs taste much better.
Herbs are plants that serve as a major source of seasonings in the preparation of foods like basil, caraway, oregano and thyme. Herbs also include those plants that are used in cosmetics like lavender and lemon balm or for medicinal purposes. You probably already use them in your soaps, the drugs you buy like aspirin, or the roast you cooked last Sunday.
So what defines an herb? It is a plant that doesn’t have a woody stem and it dies back in the winter to a perennial root system. Herbs are usually picked fresh or the leaves dried and crushed and have a mild flavor. Spices are the seeds, roots, fruits, flowers or bark and are stronger and more pungent.
The following are some basic guidelines for growing herbs:
* Plant herbs in average garden soil with organic matter added to improve texture and drainage.
* Choose a site that receives at least 6 hours of direct sun each day.
* Avoid ground where water stands or runs during heavy rains.
* Compensate for poor drainage with raised beds amended with compost.
* Apply balanced fertilizers sparingly to leafy, fast-growing herbs. Heavy applications of fertilizer, especially those containing large amounts of nitrogen, will decrease the concentration of essential oils in the lush green growth.
Overall growing a diverse group of herbs can be attractive and they can provide color, fragrance, and add a variety of taste for your cooking pleasures.