No garden is complete without culinary herbs in it. Growing culinary herbs are essential for good eating. My favorites are: garlic, parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, cilantro and green onion. Among these some you need to plant every year, some are perennials that make good garden features in your flower garden or boarders. The good news is they are easy to grow. From a gardener's pespective, herbs can be divided into annuals and perannuals. Annuals are those herbs that need to be planted every year, where perannuals are herbs that are either every green or come back year after year. Many perannul herbs have great features and make great garden plants. Incorporating these plants in your decrotive garden can greatly enhance it.
Basil (annual): Basil is great for cooking. It is essential for a kitchen gardener. Basil is an annual herb, so it needs to be planted every year. Basil loves heat, don't bother starting them early. You can either start them in the greenhouse or sow direct in the garden. Either way, you need to wait for the soil tempearture stablized at around 60 degrees before sowing/transplanting the plants. n cooking. It is great with fresh made pizza, pasta, or in salads. Check out the summer recipes for how to use basil. If you have excess basil leaves that you can't use them in the summer time, make pesto and freeze it. Coming winter you'll be glad you did. One tip on freezing pesto, use only basil, garlic, nuts and salt, do not add the parmessan cheese when freezing. The cheese when frozen can give the pesto bad texture.
Garlic (annual): Planting garlic require some planning. Garlic needs to be planted the previous fall for summer harvesting. One can say the fresh garlic is a different thing altogether compare to the dry store bought ones. It is sweet, juice and great for eating raw or in cooking. To plant garlic, clear out the summer vegetables, add 2-3 inches of compost to the soil and plant the largest garlic cloves you can find. The larger the cloves the larger the bulbs will be. So it is worth the investment. Buy the garlic cloves from farmer's market or garlic festivals around the country. Some store bought garlic bulbs have been irradiated and they will not germinate well. After the garlic is planted, they will grow a little shoots and these shoots are hardy to the winter cold and snow. When spring arrives they will grow and produce a large bulb underground. By July garlic will produce shoots. Remove all the garlic shoots, as they suck energy from the plants thus will lead to smaller garlic bulbs. The garlic shoots can be used in cooking. Garlic shoot pesto is a special treat for the summer. Garlic shoots can also be stir-fried like other vegetables. Harvest all the garlic bulbs in early to late summer. Air dry the bulbs, they should keep for at least 6 month.
Other herbs worth growing:
Thyme (Peranuall): For chicken, fish and soup dishes.
Parsley (annual) : For fresh flavor. Great for Mediterinian cooking. Excess can also be made into pesto and freeze for later use.
Marjoram (Perannual): is a herb that is similar to oregano, but with a sweeter taste. It is a beautiful herb to grow. A mature marjoram plant will make a good adition to any ornamental garden. marjoram is very good with chicken, beef or fish.
Sage (Perannual): Sage is a beautiful woody plant that makes a good corner anchoring plant. And it is a great culinary herb. Sage taste good with poultry, pork and veal. It also taste good in soups. Sage is like an evergreen, it maintains its leaves in the winter so it's a great herb to have around, particularly for the winter.