Growing Fresh Herbs For Now And Later
I had no idea there were so many varieties of herbs. We really only knew a few, those that we use in our kitchen for cooking purposes.
In the last two years we have started to grow herb of our own in our vegetable garden. Next year we plan to have a separate herb garden.
We also buy herbs at the grocery store, somewhat fresh herbs but they taste nothing close to fresh taste the herb have directly from the garden.
We have only used fresh herbs from our garden so far but for next year, without our own herb garden we plan to dry many of our herbs to use through the winter months. Goodbye grocery store herbs.
As for Herb Groups there are a couple of different groups. 1) those with low moisture content like thyme, oregano, dill, marjoram, sage, rosemary, 2) those herbs with more moisture like basil and chives.
We have found it extremely easy to grow herbs as I have grown them in containers for our indoor herb garden and they do great.
Some of the herbs are perennial species and can keep on giving for years while the annual variety of herbs you will need to replant yearly.
Growing Perennial Herbs
thymeIf you asked around you would find that perennial herbs are mint, oregano, chive, sage and thyme are the most commonly used herbs.
The thyme seeds as well as oregano, mint have extremely small seeds. You going to need to be somewhat careful when you’re sowing these little seeds. You likely won’t even need to put any soil over them as the sun will quickly help them germinate.
Chive and sage seeds need covering as they are slightly larger. Most herb seeds will germinate successfully at a temperature of 20-25 ºC (68-77 ºF).
Once seeds germinate and large enough to handle, thin them out so the ones you want to keep have enough space to grow stronger. Plant the seedlings into individual pots when 10-15 cm tall and grow them inside for a further 2-3 weeks. Plant them out to a sunny and sheltered spot in your backyard in well drained soil.
You can ideally grow the herbs in the border of your flower and vegetable beds or in a dedicated herb garden if you plant grow a lot. Once the herb plants established they will last for 4-5 years or even longer.
The most popular annual herbs are dill and basil. They are easy to grow from seed, and if you have a sunny and warm windowsill they can be grown inside all year around.
Sow the seeds in smaller pots and cover the seeds gently with compost. Keep the seeds at a temperature of 20-25 ºC (68-77 ºF). Dill and basil seeds can be sown directly outside in your garden, when the temperature outside reaches 20 ºC (68 ºF) outside.
Make sure you rake the soil well and plant the seeds and the plants at a warm spot.
You can use the fresh herb leaves during the summer months and you can dry or freeze the excess for future use in the winter months.
The herb leaves reach their aromatic peak when the flowers are just in bud but before the flowers open, so this is the best stage of growth at which to harvest. Pick them on a dry day, preferably early in the morning when the sun is not too hot and the oil content, which gives the herbs their flavour, is at its best.
Cut as much as you can dry only, as any delay of drying will lessen the oil content. Cut annual herbs to within a few inches of the ground when you harvest, but don’t cut more than one-third off the stem of the perennial herb, to allow for regrowth.
Dry them on a newspaper in the airing cupboard or on a warm windowsill, cover them with more newspaper to exclude light, this way more flavour will preserve. Dry the sprigs slowly over 4-5 days and then hang them upside down on a cool, dry place as if you leave the leaves on the stalks they will stay fragrant longer.
If you do not have the space you can crash the herbs and store them in an airtight container. Basil, sage and generally the herbs which contain more moisture will need longer drying period and a plenty of space between the cuttings in order to avoid rotting.