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May 22, 2014 08:42 PM

Fresh herbs--do you have them, how do you use them?

I started an herb garden in pots outside this spring. I messed around with this last summer, but went into it more completely this time around. I have rosemary, thyme, two basils, parsely, fern leaf dill, oregano, orange mint and two sages. I don't know how well these guys will perform all summer, but I am getting herb cuttings now. I like to add the various chopped herbs to salad greens. I want to use the oregano with some chiles in adobo to make a lively pimiento cheese or dip. I do plan to make a nice Caprese using my basil.

I wonder what your experiences are with your freshly harvested herbs. How do you use them? And how do you know how much to add to various dishes? When do you add them, if the dish is long cooked? (I believe I have read to add later in the cooking.)

I don't have dryer, so any that I save in October, I suppose I will try to freeze. Does that work?

I brought the oregano and one of the sages through the winter, by leaving the pot they were in close to the house. I was able to begin harvesting herbs from those plants quite early.

Anyone else do this? I have to say, I am enjoying this a lot. I've always wanted an herb garden.

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  1. Couldn't live without my summer herbs, I grow them on the side porch for easy picking. I tend to use them mostly in marinades for the grill through September. And tons of pesto with the basil.

    What is left in the fall, I dry it on the dining room table. It only takes a couple of days, then into small glass bottles to use over the winter. No need for any fancy equipment!

    1. seeded and sliced cucumbers with rice wine vinegar and dill.

      chopped tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and basil

      1. I like to blend them with a little mayo and/or buttermilk and vinegar or lemon juice for what we simply call "ranch" in my house even though it's not ranch at all lol

        1. My oregano is in the ground and overwinters here (NJ 7a) with no problem. I wait until it is good and tall, but right before it flowers, and I cut it all. I tie it in bunches and hang it in my laundry room (warm, dry) for three months. Then I destem and store it in glass jars. I use it for pizza, garlic bread, sausage, gravy, grilled chicken, eggplant, etc. funny, I don't use it fresh.

          Every year I plant a window box with annual herbs: thyme, lemon thyme, sage, tarragon, parsley, rosemary. I use them on chicken, fish, ratatouille, etc. I can sometimes keep the flat leaf parsley alive until Christmas! Basil goes in the garden for fresh tomato/mozz stacks, tomato salads, chicken sandwiches.

          16 Replies
          1. re: Jerseygirl111

            yes: hang, dry, stem, jar. boom.

            this year I planted the mint at the edge of the yard, some gripe that it will become invasive (a perennial), but I like that idea.

            1. re: hill food

              My last house had an invasive spearmint problem. The entire side yard had no grass only mint. No matter how much we dug it up, it still came back (I refused to use chemicals). It smelled fantastic when we mowed but the dirt itself got very dry and dusty.

              I want to plant horseradish very badly but I am terrified from everything I've read.

              1. re: Jerseygirl111


                I want to plant horseradish very badly but I am terrified from everything I've read.



                I was JUST talking to one of my vendors at the weekday farmer's market who was selling jarred horseradish about that matter.
                I had no Idea how invasive it becomes.

                I had a local architect friend plant bamboo in his front yard only to find how much of a nuisance and how invasive it became over time.

                I had no idea horseradish root was that type of plant nor could even grow here locally, much less take-over. Yowsa.

                I stopped growing a big patch of strawberries on my empty adjacent property I own years ago but the blossoms and small berries from them still find their way into my lawn and gardens as the birds eat the small berries and them "cycle them thru."
                Year after year.

                Mother nature is funny that way. LOLZ.

                1. re: jjjrfoodie

                  I will be digging up bamboo shoots and roots tomorrow. I suggested my neighbor consider it for privacy, but they didn't plant it properly with deep metal sheeting to prevent free for all spreading. It has now jumped the fence. Any landscaper worth their salt should know how to properly plant spreading plants. I bet sheeting would help with horseradish as well. Not sure about mint though.


                  1. re: Bellachefa

                    getting OT, but it also depends on the variety, there are some which will not thrive in full sun or full shadow, making it a good edge of the woods border (if you have woods)

                    1. re: Bellachefa

                      It cost us 16k to get the invasive bamboo planted by our seller removed, and barriers placed. Not steel, but 65ml plastic is used as barrier, and it must be sealed where the ends meet, or the bamboo just runs along til it finds the seam.

                      I would never plant mint in anything but a pot!

                      1. re: mcf

                        yikes $16K? - I'd just go jungle-style at that point, sure would cut down on the mowing.

                        1. re: hill food

                          New town ordinance.You can have it, but must contain it. And it was a nuisance for us, not just neighbors. We could have just placed the barrier and contained it within our property for 10k less, but DH really wanted it GONE.

                          Most towns have begun instituting bans on planting running bamboo and requirements to contain existing around here. It is extremely invasive, damages structures, roadways, etc, where it has been allowed to become jungle.

                          1. re: mcf

                            There is a house I pass every week that has been overrun by bamboo, and it looks as if it is invading the neighboring yard. It is a horrifying mess. I wouldn't have it in my yard, in the ground or pot.

                            Previous owner of this house planted lemon balm and then let it run all over a planter that runs the width of our back yard. It was a royal pain to get rid of. I pullled plants, then roots all of last year. I finally laid down thick newspaper sheets, and mulched over to kill any of that stuff that might be left. I pulled a tiny plant out of the cranny of the planter wall today.

                            I agree about the mint family. Contain it. I have orange mint in a pot.

                            1. re: sueatmo

                              We need it grown back so we have privacy. I guess the previous owner wanted a fast growing screen for the area overlooking the patio, deck and hot tub and outdoor shower here. I already had the bamboo guy back to remove three that came up where we didn't dig, but we expected that. That area was not populated by it, really, and so far, no more have arisen. 6', one of them, literally overnight.

                              We plan to plant a clumping bamboo (within a container anyway) that only grows to 8' around as a hot tub screen, too. Non invasive, not running bamboo.

                  2. re: Jerseygirl111

                    Plant each one in a pice of plastic pipe. Or grow it in a deep container like a wine barrel .

                        1. re: magiesmom

                          Barriers are supposed to be non decomposable, though.

                        2. re: magiesmom

                          The whole point is for each clump to spread to its full 8' in width. My bamboo guy can create a barrier around them. My first thought was to sink bottomless black trash cans, may still do that.

                        3. re: Jerseygirl111

                          I planted a bit of horseradish at our first house. I am glad I didn't mention it to the buyers; we were only there 12 years or so but whoa, talk about a weed taking over. If you mowed the lawn you didn't notice that much.

                    1. mint is used by muddling with various liquors and the fixings.

                      Otherwise, I just like to go out and get a bit of what ever I would use dried for fresh. If its a long cooked dish (marinara, etc) then I start with dried and finish with fresh.

                      And today, added some fresh thyme to my jerk chicken marinade. Yum!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: autumm

                        Yes to muddling! I grow chocolate mint for food and banana and pineapple mint for drinks.