Herbs: An Overview

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Holly K. Ross

An Overview of Herbs- For growing, using, and enjoying!

When thinking of gardening, cooking, eating healthy, one cannot get away from the beauty and necessity of herbs.  Regardless of your goal- to grow healthy food for you and your family, to attract butterflies, to make your gardens beautiful or to simply delight your senses- herbs fit the bill.

For the most part, herbs are perennials and hardy.  Even in our erratic weather patterns in the South, herbs have performed very well for me. I can’t think of another group of plants that have brought me much satisfaction and joy.  As with most fresh food, when you have tasted the flavors of fresh sage, thyme, rosemary and more- you can never go back to the herb dust you can purchase off the shelves in the supermarkets.  The taste is just so amazing.  And by fresh, I also mean the herbs harvested and dried by your own hands.

In this article, we are going to talk about what an herb is and the basics of how to grow them.

A few terms before we get started:

  • Herbaceous– a plant dies back to the ground in winter, but comes back each spring.  You can have plants that are not herbs but are herbaceous and Herbs that are not herbaceous!
  • Perennial– a plant that returns year after year, can be evergreen or herbaceous.
  • Biennial– a plant that flowers in its second year and then dies.
  • Annual- a plant that is only here for one annual year. Once the freeze ends its season, it is done.

What herbs to plant where-

A large majority of herbs are perennials and biennials, so they will be with you for quite a while.

When choosing herbs begin with the end in mind.

Think about these questions:

  • Why do you want to grow herbs?
  • Do you want to cook with the herbs? If so, what do you like to cook?
  • Are you wanting to attract pollinators?
  • Are you wanting to provide early spring food for bees?
  • Are you wanting to use herbs as your medicine?
  • Do you just want to grow them because they are pretty?

There is no right or wrong answer, its your garden you get to make it what you want.

Now that you have an idea of why you want to grow herbs, you need to consider what growing conditions you have to offer.

  1. Consider their origin- did they come from wooded areas, desert areas, wet areas etc. and group like plants together.
  2. Consider water requirements of each plant
  3. Consider growth habits: height, cold hardy, heat tolerant, upright or rambler, etc.
  4. Consider their function: culinary, medicinal, ornamental, etc.

Each of these points will help you determine where in your garden to locate the plants.  Obviously, a water loving herb does not need to be planted with Rosemary and Lavender as these herbs prefer a very dry climate.  If you consider these aspects before you plant everyone will benefit.

honeybees-on-basil
Holy Basil is an herb that is medicinal, pretty, makes a great tea, and feeds the pollinators.

Which herbs are good for the South?

  • Thyme- creeping lemon*
  • Sage- Salvia Officinalis*
  • Italian Oregano*
  • Lavender- English and Fern Leaf*
  • Parsley
  • Citronella
  • Basil- all kinds
  • Aloe Vera
  • Lemon Balm*
  • Mints*
  • Salad Burnett *
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon Grass
  • Catnip
  • Stevia
  • Sweet Woodruff
  • Garlic (plant in September)
  • Roses

*- good for planting in fall as they grow all year long.

The list goes on and on, but these herbs will get you off to a good start in your herb garden.

Taking Herbs from Garden to Table!

To use your herbs fresh, just snip and use! Sprinkle chopped fresh herbs in our dishes while cooking. Taste and add more if desired. Some herbs, such as chives or parsley, are good sprinkled on top as a tasty garnish.

To Dry herbs-

  • Cut and tie in bundle (rubber bands work great!)
  • Hang to dry or dry in oven on low or a hot car
  • Grind and store- chop in blender, store in jars in a cool dark place like a pantry.

Herbs are easy to grow and to use! When I first began, I thought there was some complicated process or great secret to getting the herbs from the garden to my kitchen. There isn’t, its just as easy as I have described in the blog article.

If you are having challenges and need help, feel free to reach out to me!

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If you are new to gardening or starting a new project, get your free Garden Strategy Guide by clicking the photo link below:

growing-cucumbers-organically-in-front-of-an-old-shed

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