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Herbs for a Chinese/Indian garden?

Westy Sep 30, 2011 11:50 AM

Hello -
Having the garden area re-done for my townhouse here in NC. Mostly India (jasmine, other flowering vines) and Chinese. I was wondering, in addition to Thai basil and lemongrass, what herbs can I /should I grow?

  1. g
    gimlis1mum Nov 10, 2011 05:24 PM

    Many of my Chinese neighbors have Chinese celery and purple perilla growing in their gardens. I've had no luck with celery myself. The perilla is beautiful (it's a self-seeding annual here in zone 6). I never quite figured out how to cook with it, though, so I haven't kept up with it in my garden.

    I do love garlic chives. They form their blossoms in the late summer, harvest them before they break into flower.

    Thai basil is another good one for your garden. Hope you're having fun!

    ETA: what about a kaffir lime tree? You might need to keep it in a pot and move indoors for the winter, though. Or a satsuma madarin?

    4 Replies
    1. re: gimlis1mum
      jumpingmonk Nov 11, 2011 04:17 AM

      Be careful with a Kaffir lime, they tend to have BIG thorns.

      1. re: gimlis1mum
        Westy Nov 11, 2011 05:43 AM

        You know. I thought about getting a small fruit tree. I have nowhere to put a lime tree indoors, but, over in Chapel Hill, there is a garden shop that has dwarf cherry, fig and jujube trees. I don't really know what a jujube is, but according to the tag, it is Chinese. plus, it just soudns cool "Hey hon, jujubes are in. Looking good, too" you know what I mean?

        1. re: Westy
          gimlis1mum Nov 11, 2011 08:05 AM

          Jujube is a red date. I buy them dried, mostly to use in Korean dishes (galbi stew and the like) but you could also use them to make eight treasures tea. Or just good old jujube tea - basically dried mukhtar, boiled in water, with lots of honey.

          Is the dwarf cherry a sweet cherry or sour/pie cherry? Sour cherries are wonderful and the birds seem to leave them mostly alone. You could make some nice Persian dishes with sour cherries, I think.

          1. re: gimlis1mum
            jumpingmonk Nov 11, 2011 04:51 PM

            Just to be clear despite the nane, a jujube/red date is not actually a date. Its actually a stone fruit of sorts like a peach or a plum. When fresh it has dry somewaht cottony white flesh covered by a pale green skin (which brusies very easily, so that fruit usually has numerous brown patches by the time it is sold) surround a small browinsh spindle shaped pit with a VERY sharp tip. Tase is vaugley like a date

      2. tcamp Oct 6, 2011 11:56 AM

        Rosemary and sage are both winter hardy in your area and I consider both staples. Rosemary, in particular, is a perennial shrub so it adds nice structure to your herb garden.

        I always grow tarragon, parsley, mint (keep to a container), several kinds of basil, chives, and oregano. Give cilantro a try. In my area (DC), it does fine in early spring, then bolts. Just too hot/humid in the summer for it to thrive.

        2 Replies
        1. re: tcamp
          Breezychow Oct 6, 2011 02:24 PM

          While it's true that tarragon, rosemary, sage, etc., are hardy perennials - even in the north - neither one is comonly used in either Indian or Chinese cooking, which is what the OP is looking for.

          While both jasmine & lemongrass are essentially tropical, you "might" get away with them outdoors if they have good sites & have winter protection. But it's definitely hit or miss. Here I bring my lemongrass & my lemon verbena indoors. You can definitely grow Garlic Chives, which are used in both Indian & Asian cooking. In fact, in China it's frequently served as a vegetable on it's own. It's a completely different plant from regular chives & I consider it necessary for Asian & Indian cooking. Mint will grow anywhere - just make sure you get a decent one, as there are a lot of stinky-smelling awful-tasting "mutt" mints out there. Basil (particular the Thai types) & cilantro are also must-haves, although both are annuals. Cilantro needs repeated resowings to keep a good crop going.

          1. re: Breezychow
            jumpingmonk Oct 6, 2011 05:15 PM

            Since you are in the DC area (where it's fairly mild usually) you may be able to get away with a star anise tree (Illicum verum) as well. While it is a tree, it's a very short one (5-6 feet, max) and fairly small, so you can probably fit it in a garden with little trouble. Lokks a little like a magnolia (to which it is distantly related). The only tricky bit is that I'm not sure where one would get a tree. Some seed companies sell fertile seed (the seed sold in spice stores is picked a little before ripening and usually irradiated, so it usually won't grow). I have no idea if ready grown tree saplings are avaialable as well.
            Some part of northern china use a kind of dill (introduced by the Russians and Trans-Caucasians), but it is very different from our kind, and seed is hard to get, so that may be best passed on. (plus it needs it to be cold to do well).

        2. b
          Breezychow Sep 30, 2011 05:37 PM

          Where are you located? That will determine what you can grow outdoors & what you have to grow in containers to bring indoors if you have suitable light.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Breezychow
            Westy Oct 3, 2011 08:04 AM

            Raleigh area in NC.

          2. v
            veenaprasad Sep 30, 2011 12:11 PM

            That sounds like a fun project! For Indian herbs, I'd recommend cilantro and curry leaves (Murraya koenigii). Fresh thai chilis and ginger would be awesome in Indian and Thai dishes. For Chinese herbs, I seem to use spring onions and chives the most. and these are also supposedly easy to grow.

            While I cook a lot, I don't garden. I do hear that all the herbs/spices listed above are easy to grow. I would love to have a jasmine plant around the house though. I love the fragrance of the blooms!

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