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Mar 11, 2011 12:48 PM

Do you grow your own herbs?

Hello All... I have just ventured into the world of growing your own herbs after getting tired of paying $4 for fresh basil, so a few questions: What do you grow? What do you find essential for a fresh herb garden (so far I have a Rosemary plant and my basil and parsley seeds are starting to sprout)? When you go to replant seedlings, do you plant in the biodegradable cups? Lastly, what is your favorite use of fresh herbs? Thanks!!

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  1. Yes, as many as I can in our Zone 1 climate! So, nearly all are treated as annuals, including rosemary which I must bring in for seven months of the year. The only thing that survives winter is chives. Everything else dies unless I bring it in. My husband built me fabulous high raised beds with seating all the way around in a sun-soaked area with our white house throwing off heat behind.

    I grow:

    - rosemary
    - chives
    - garlic chives
    - lemon thyme
    - thyme
    - basil
    - thai basil
    - lemon verbena
    - lavender
    - lemon balm
    - tarragon
    - sage
    - cilantro
    - parsley
    - oregano
    - marjoram
    - mint in a container as it is assertive
    - chervil

    Seems as though I am missing something obvious. will come to me...

    I dry those that dry well such as orgegano but use most fresh in lots of preserves (sweet and savoury). I make seasoning blends, seasoning salts (i.e. orange rosemary), lovely syrups and drinks such as rosemary lemonade, use in homemade sorbet/ice cream/semi-freddo/granitas, panna cotta, creme brulee, shortbreads, chutneys, several kinds of pesto, in many savoury dishes such as roasting veg, slipping under chicken skin, compound butters, bouquet garni and so on. Oh, and yummy mint sauce for lamb.

    8 Replies
    1. re: chefathome

      Wow! I am so impressed and inspired :). Thanks for the tip on the mint! I was thinking of adding it next, although I will probably have to start that from a plant rather than seed if I want it in time for the Derby! Into it's own pot it will go!

      1. re: aphayes

        In fact, mint can grow rampantly in zone 1 and overwinter the odd time!! It can become a true annoyance in no time, even for those of us who love fresh mint!

        Due to our short growing season we buy most herbs as transplants rather than seed. There just isn't the time.

      2. re: chefathome

        If you don't mind me asking, how far North are you...Zone 1 Yikes!

        1. re: hypomyces

          Northern Alberta. On average we get 87 frost-free days per year so our growing season is terribly short. Thankfully we get a lot of sun and long days in the summer! But we can easily get frost in June, July or August. It's surprising when we don't in August, actually. Temps range from - 40F to 100F and we always have lots of snow from early November (often October) right through April. So, now our temps are about -30F and we have probably about 3 feet of snow still.

          1. re: chefathome

            I'm originally from on the East coast of what do you grow i your veg garden? Always on the lookout for cold loving veggies.,

            1. re: hypomyces

              Oh, cool! (Literally.) What zone are you in now? Edmonton is about a 3 I believe - not a lot better than a 1. We regularly go to Edmonton (a few hours south) to do our specialty food shopping (I.e. Italian Centre, T&T).

              I grow lots of green beans, tons of tomatoes (last year a few plants grew beyond 7 feet which astounded me!), a few varieties of carrots (favourites are nantes), radishes, Lincoln homesteader peas, a few varieties of peppers that I don't start myself, have done asparagus peas (pretty plant but don't love the veg!), butternut squash, garlic... Used to grow cukes but I can get good ones at our farmer's market - same with onions, shallots and potatoes. Season too short for leeks. I want to try watermelon transplants again this year (so far no luck). Corn doesn't seem to do well here. Oh, kohlrabi can do well! Have grown cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower but don't like all the icky worms all over.

              We grow several types of lettuce and spinach. We're growing micro-greens this year (tiny beet leaves, arugula, radish and so on). I like the cut and come again stuff.

        2. re: chefathome

          What an inspiring array of herbs you have!

          I've never seen chervil for sale here- does it prefer cooler weather than we have in AZ?

          1. re: EWSflash

            Yes, chervil does like it a bit cooler and sheltered as it is ferny-ish and almost a little fragile.

        3. I love growing herbs at home. If you do you always have a little around without having to go to the store.

          I find them useful in approximately the following order: mint, parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, dill, oregano, tarragon, chives, sage, thai basil. Sadly cilantro won't grow well where I am.

          I have mostly stopped growing from seed and just spend a few bucks on a plant. I get a lot more mileage out of them, although there is something fun about growing from seed. When I did grow from seed I usually gently tore the cups off and planted right into the dirt.

          5 Replies
          1. re: MRich

            What's your climate like so that cilantro wo't grow for you? It grows in the winter here, in southern AZ, but bolts just about as soon as it comes out of the ground in summer.

            1. re: EWSflash

              I live in Brooklyn, NY. I've spoken to a lot of local gardeners that have problems with cilantro. I've tried it in both my extremely sunny deck at my last apartment and my current not very sunny deck. Perhaps it's the humidity? I tried for at least 3 or 4 seasons and gave up.

              1. re: MRich

                Cilantro does not transplant well. Bolting time is a function of age of plant and temperature. Commercial plants tend to be too old to begin with and then are stunted by transplanting shock. Direct seeding every four or five weeks works best for me in Chicago. The cultivar Santo is somewhat heat tolerant.

                Saving seed can effectively select for fast bolting if you are not careful.

                1. re: Eldon Kreider

                  Yeah, I've tried growing from seed, seeding every few weeks etc. I was very frustrated till I heard that a lot of locals have problems with cilantro.

                2. re: MRich

                  Humidity is probably not the problem. I live in Houston, and cilantro does great here in hot and humid weather. Maybe you are not trimming it back enough? MIne responds to being cut by putting out new shoots. I did start from seed, like some others have mentioned.

            2. Anise Hyssop: an interesting herb is Anise Hyssop, it is perrenial, has tons of purple flower spikes, and has a great minty, anise-y flavor; it also dried well.

              Bee Balm- again Bee Balm have beautiful flowers, smells and tastes like Earl Grey tea.

              I grow herbs in the kitchen over winter in addition to my herb garden during the summer. I find that thyme, rosemary, and chives do well in the kitchen....I've been using my rosemary plant for over 5 years now!
              I live about 900 km from the nearest Chinese market, so when I last purchased Thai basil, I stuck the leftover branches in some potting mix, and, BOOM, fresh Thai basil for over a year now.
              I am a lazy gardener, so I stick with Thyme, Rosemary, Chives, Greek Oregano, Tarragon, and Sage.(easy perrenials)

              1. Here's what I have growing right now in Arizona:

                greek oregano
                two types of thyme
                flat leaf parsley

                The basil. mint and rosemary seem to always make it through summer...the rest eventually fade once the nights get really hot here. I have some raised beds but grow my herbs in containers.

                1. I grow herbs in containers, mostly. Flat-leaf parsley, thyme, basil, chives, oregano, rosemary, dill, and lavendar (the latter two in a raised bed garden). Some years I grow mint and sage. Never seem to have luck with cilantro.