An Essential Herb Garden

There’s nothing more fun than heading out to the patio or garden to pick up a few sprigs of fresh herbs to add to our cooking. Here are a variety of essential herbs to add to your favorite dishes.

Chives

One of the easiest herbs to grow, chives can be self-seeded throughout the garden. It’s a perennial plant in the onion family whose seedlings can be easily shared. Safe from pests and diseases, chives grow in almost any type of soil with good sun exposure. Use flower clippers to cut the stems at the base of the plant. The white or purple flowers can be eaten in salads or used to decorate an entrĂ©e. Once flowering is complete, remove the spent flowers to prevent seeding and overgrowth of the plant.

Dill

Dill is an easy-to-grow perennial that can self-seed, unless you harvest all the seed pods to add to your marinades and condiments. A member of the parsley, carrot and parsnip family, it likes sun and well-drained soil rich in organic matter such as compost. In addition to the seeds, which are frequently used for cooking or preserving, you can try the fresh or dried leaves for a more subtle dill flavor that pairs well with fish or seafood. In addition, dill helps digestion, which is why it is one of the 6 herbs that soothe.

Rosemary

In very mild winters, rosemary can survive the cold season. In most parts of Canada, this hardy perennial can be planted outdoors each year or grown in pots and sheltered during the winter season. It is more difficult to grow rosemary from seed than other herbs. This plant likes warm, sunny locations and well-drained soil. Sometimes in the spring, your plants will produce light blue flowers.

Sage

This bitter-flavored plant is a woody perennial that usually grows to 60 cm in height. However, there are smaller varieties. Sage thrives in full sun in well-drained soil.

Excessive moisture in the soil, however, can cause the roots to rot. For container planting, there are many varieties with two or three colors of foliage, including a particularly elegant purple and green specimen. Sage enhances sauces that accompany meats and pairs well with poultry, sausages, pork, soups and sauces.

Basil

This annual plant is a must for lovers of fresh tomatoes and good pasta. It is the main ingredient in most pesto recipes. Basil is a fragile annual that fears frost. Gardeners can choose from many varieties, some with beautiful purple foliage. The flowers and flower buds are edible.

However, it is best to delay flowering as much as possible, as this slows down the plant’s growth. Basil thrives in full sun, but can dry out in hot weather. It grows well in pots or isolated beds. So even if you don’t have a garden, you can grow these easy-to-grow potted plants year-round!

Parsley

Parsley, a biennial plant that grows like an annual, is essential for salads, soups and many other dishes. There are various types, including curly parsley, flat leaf parsley or fern leaf parsley. The latter variety has a stronger flavor than the others. Parsley grows well in the sun, although it needs some shade during the day. Add compost or organic matter to the soil to provide the nitrogen needed for good foliage growth and work the soil well before planting. Like dill and other plants in the carrot family, parsley has long roots and does not like compacted or stony soil.

Thyme

Thyme can be ornamental or edible. Therefore, choose a culinary variety to grow in pots or to incorporate into the herb garden.

This slow-growing, tapering perennial will do best in full sun, in ordinary garden soil. In winter, however, its survival depends on good soil drainage. You can plant variegated types with gold and green or silver and green foliage and distinctive scents such as lemon or orange for decorative purposes. Thyme is very popular for flavoring sauces, vinegars, soups, stews, meats and fish.

Oregano

Indispensable for Italian cooking, oregano is a hardy and invasive perennial. However, you can control its growth by practicing weeding or growing it in pots.

Oregano thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. To enjoy it at its best, harvest the young, tender shoots or leaves.

Remove flower buds as soon as they appear to prevent bitter leaves. For those looking for something a little unusual, there is a variety of oregano with bright golden foliage and a mild flavor, ideal for garnishes or salads.

Lavender

Lavender isn’t just for soaps and sachets. This uniquely fragrant plant is used in a variety of teas and in sweet treats such as chocolates and cookies, and is also used in cooking meats. Lavender likes sunny, warm and dry places but does not tolerate winter humidity. The soil should not be too fertile because excessive fertility decreases the content of essential oils that give the plant its scent and fragrance. If lavender is a shrubby perennial, it is important to know that some varieties are not very resistant to cold and should therefore be grown in pots or treated as annuals.

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