Herb Garden Tips

Healthy Home, Healthy Living
on March 15, 2012

Herbs are plants used in cooking as well as for medicinal and other purposes. You can grow herbs in a traditional garden, raised bed garden or in containers. When planting an herb garden in spring, consider including these five hardy varieties.

Chives. A member of the onion family, chives prefer full sun and moist soil. Jeanine M. Davis, Extension Horticultural specialist from North Carolina State University, says, “Chives are hardy, draught tolerant, perennials, eight to twenty inches tall that grow in clumps from underground bulbs.” When they flower in June or July, the herb produces round purple/pink heads. Flavor dishes such as omelets, potatoes and soups with fresh chives from your herb garden.

Oregano. If you are planning to plant a summer pizza garden with tomatoes, green peppers and onions, be sure to include oregano plants in your spring herb garden. Plant oregano in soil with good drainage and in an area of the garden that receives full sun. Oregano can grow tall, about 2 feet, and may spread as much as 18 inches or more in width. It’s a pungent spice and works great in Italian, Spanish and Mexican recipes.

Parsley. Parsley can be grown indoors but is an herb that enjoys bright sun and will thrive better outdoors. A flavorful herb, parsley needs to be watered weekly. Make sure to water it deeply and use a thin layer of mulch to help retain moisture between waters. The mulch also can help to keep down weeds. Parsley is a hardy herb, handling light frosts and remaining green throughout summer and into fall.

Sage. The herb sage has a distinctive flavor that enhances chicken, fish, stuffing and more. An attractive addition to any herb garden, sage can have greenish-grey leaves that are a bit fuzzy. Other varieties are available and vary in color. When it flowers, the blooms are lilac. According to the University of Illinois (U. of I.) Extension Office, the lilac blue flowers will appear midsummer, typically in the plant’s second year. Keep an eye on your sage, as spider mites and slugs can be an issue.

Thyme. Thyme is another herb featuring blooms of a lilac hue. They appear in clusters on the plant’s stems; however, it’s the leaves that emit a tantalizing aroma. Thyme plants need full sun and well-drained soil. They also can become “woody” after three or four years, reports the U. of I. Extension Office. Use thyme to season your roasts, stews, gumbos and grilled chicken.