Are You A Herb Grower? What Makes It Worth Your While?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Hee Haw, May 29, 2006.

  1. Hee Haw

    Hee Haw Well-Known Member

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    Hi,
    My title is not the intention to afend anyone,I thought it would be interesting to know from all you herb growers,What makes it worth your your efforts? What herbs do you grow for what reasons? Are for what other reasons? The only thing I could think of is oregano for spaggetti. But that goes to show you what little I know about herbs and their uses. Thanks
     
  2. kentuckyhippie

    kentuckyhippie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I use a lot of herbs in cooking and the fresh ones have a lot more flavor than the ones you buy from the store, which are usually too old to be flavorful. I grow chives, peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, chocolate mint, sage, sweet basil, thyme to use in cooking and lemon balm for tea, chamomile for tea, catnip for tea, and aloe and houseleek to use on itchy rashes, burns or bug bites, and pennyroyal and tansy as insect repellants.
     

  3. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have to grow basil as I can't live without fresh pesto! I also have parsley, spearmint, sage and cilantro growing this year. I love my fresh herbs.
     
  4. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    I have a herb-only garden. Only about 60-odd herbs now, but my previous garden (much larger) had more than 250. Even now, when browsing through a herb nursery, I find myself unable to resist buying one (or three) I've never had before, just for the heck of it!

    Like most herb gardeners, I started out with the usual parsley and rosemary, and expanded from there when I found out how much nicer it was fresh than dried. I had a collection of recipes which called for different herbs, and discovered over and over how much better they were fresh than dried.

    Then I discovered that herbs had medicinal benefits (and unwanted side-effects), so I started researching. And from then on I was hooked on herbs! To me, they are fascinating. There are so many of them, and so many uses for them. I have ended up writing books about them, and feel that the only thing I've really learned is that I haven't yet scratched the surface of what there is to know about herbs.

    I use herbs in just about everything I cook. Not just in my spag.bol sauce, but in desserts, cakes, jams, pickles, biscuits, scones, stews, casseroles, roasts - you name it. They really make a difference. Having fresh ginger always on hand is wonderful, and there's always plenty of chives to put on my jacket potatoes with sour cream, or a leaf or two of kaffir lime to toss into a stirfry.

    I even use the flowers. Lavender flowers make a beautiful honey, and added to muffins (with a little lemon juice as a glaze) they are To Die For. Nasturtium flowers, chive flowers, calendula petals, borage flowers - lots and lots of flowers, so pretty added to a salad.

    I use my herbs medicinally when needed, but of course I know a lot about which herbs to use for what, and I'm happy to work in with my doctor for more serious ailments. I have some purely-medicinal herbs, such as Aloe Vera and Agrimony, but most of the culinary herbs have medicinal purposes as well.

    I often use my herbs for other purposes - for perfume, as sprays to repel bugs in the garden, for cleaning, in the laundry and other household uses. There is nothing more luxurious than to get into a freshly-made bed with sheets that have a lavender perfume to them! I put bay leaves into my flour and pasta canisters and scatter then on shelves to deter cockroaches and weevils etc. I'm not an arty-crafty person, but there are hundreds of uses of herbs in such activities if I could get so inclined in that direction.

    Aside from using herbs, I just love looking at them and smelling them. When it rains, the perfumes wafting across to me is just like being in heaven. I grow a few veges as well (I count them as herbs, too!), and it's very rare I get an unwanted bug or disease. No matter what time of year it is, there's always at least one of my herbs in flower. Some flower all year round - I'm lucky to live in a climate that suits a great variety of herbs.

    Honestly, there's just so much to herbs that I'd be lost without them. I cannot imagine life without herbs. They are my hobby, my passion and my delight. Learning and writing about them stops my brain from going soggy - and I really enjoy my food!
     
  5. ChiliPalmer

    ChiliPalmer Well-Known Member

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    I have only a little room for pots on the backyard patio, so my selection is rather limited. But I have rosemary, dill, basil, sage, chives, woodruff and aloe. I've had mints and cilantro as well. IMO oregano is lovely stuff but it's rosemary and basil that are the essential Italian herbs. They combine beautifully and go with almost anything. Both of them in a dough for herb bread, topped with cheese... gorgeous. Dill's good for pickles of course, but also with green beans or potatoes or cheesy dill biscuits. Chicken isn't chicken without sage and any dish heavy on the onions is improved with sage, a natural onion complement. Chives have a mild onion flavor when the scallion aren't ready yet or you want a little color (nachos, potato chowder or cold pasta salads). Mints make jelly for lamb, tea, iced drinks, mohitos, and people love them with carrots - but I never do as I hate cooked carrots. Cilantro is one of the basic ingredients for salsa.

    And that's just the beginning. Here's a link to get your familiarised with the main culinary herbs. From there the sky's the limit.
     
  6. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I started with herbs because I absolutely love fresh herbs. I got sage. Thyme. Oregano. As ChiliPalmer says, rosemary and basil are a must for Italian dishes. Cilantro for salsa, and for the lovely coriander seed it produces. Parsley. Lavender. Woodruff. Pennyroyal. Dill for pickles and fish. Mints.

    I'm not addicted, but I sure do love my fresh herbs. This year, I added a couple planters close to the house in addition to my little 4x4 bed of herbs.

    Herbs make life a little sweeter, richer. They add a flourish to the basic vegetables.

    Pony!
     
  7. Hummingbird

    Hummingbird Well-Known Member

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    :hobbyhors ROAD TRIP!!!

    Are your books available for purchase?


    I too started with just a bit of mint for tea, oregano for sauce, some chives at our previous house. Now, 8 years later, we have a terraced herb/flower garden with a goldfish pond. I grow for culinary, medicinal and toiletry purposes. Meaning, I cook with herbs, I doctor with herbs and I make soaps & lotions with herbs. :)

    Currently growing are applemint ( :nono: very invasive), spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, chives, sage, several thymes, several lavendars, two different oreganos, salad burnett, aloe, feverfew, comfrey, patchouli, culantro (not cilantro), 2 different parsleys, basil, rosemary, marjoram, (I'm mentally walking thru the garden trying to remember) and maybe a couple others. I would love to add more but unless I order them in - I have more than the local nurseries :rolleyes: . OH! I forgot the stevia. Love that plant!!

    Nance
     
  8. sullen

    sullen Question Answerer

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    I grow herbs because they are almost no fuss, mine come up again every year, they smell good, they taste better, and I dry them and give them away to friends. I give them away fresh, too. Thats how I cultivate my friends. Plus no one else around here does it. They all work 9 to 5.
     
  9. Island of Blueb

    Island of Blueb Island of Blueb Supporter

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    I have a small herb patch, chives, oregano, sage, lavender, thyme, lemon balm, borage, English mint and chocolate mint. I started basil and parsley from seed so they are rather tiny so far, looking good though. I use them for cooking but my absolute favorite thing is just getting a whiff of the herb bed when the sun is hot. Heaven!
     
  10. Cara

    Cara Well-Known Member

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    HUmmingbird,

    What I ddi for all the mints is planted them in cinder blocks. Then I use the blocks for hose guides at the ends of my raised beds. So far it's worked well! Apple mint sounds good...wonder if Territorial has that? Oh and someone mentioned pineapple sage...haven't got that yet.......whatelse???
     
  11. Hummingbird

    Hummingbird Well-Known Member

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    Very good point Cara! It's exactly because of that pesky apple mint that the rest of the mints are now in barriers in the herb garden.

    If you think it would survive, I could try to mail you some. I'm close to St. Louis, PM me if you think it's worth a shot.

    Nance
     
  12. Dahc

    Dahc Don't Tase me, bro!?!

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    This is very interesting. The moisture doesn't just filter right through into the ground and dry the soil in the cinderblocks out? How do you combat that?
     
  13. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Herbs are very forgiving (regarding lack of water--in fact I never water them) return every year and grow without much care. So they are in my no fuss perennial beds.

    Here's what I couldn't live without:

    Fresh parsley for making chicken soup. Fresh parsley has a lot of vitamin C
    Later the parsley is host to swallowtail butterflies.

    Oregano or basil for just about any Italian or casserole

    Sage for stuffing and meats.

    I like to use chives and lovage for taste in my salads.

    I like to use chives in the early spring before I have green onions for cooking

    Garlic--I use it in everything except dessert!!
     
  14. Cara

    Cara Well-Known Member

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    I haven't had any trouble with drying out. When we moved, I had to use a shovel to break them loose from the ground...the roots had gone through. Mints are really just weeds, so they are very hardy. At least they are here.
     
  15. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    fragrance and flowers. I don't cook with rosemary sage or thyme much at all but love to smell them and see them in the garden.

    Also freshness and convenience. I garden to avoid driving to market, and to avoid saying "Oh no I just ran out of [essential ingredient] for the meal I was all ready to be (or am in the midst of) making now"

    Love DH sayng "What this needs is chives" and givng him a look ['you lazy so and so'] and runnng out to garden and brnging him a boquet of chiveblossom and explaining to cut the stems into his dish. And then put the flowers into this vase.

    Today 11 days before I leave this garden I found cilantro volunteering from FAILED efforts to get it started past 4 years. And garnished my mattar panir with it. (after carefully assuring myself it wasn't cow parsley!!!) (need to grow ginger next place!)

    And it ties us together. On Smith Island at Isle Royale in Lake Superior there's the ruin of one of the houses abandoned there when it became parkland- and around the threshold is chive blossoms marking a previous housewife's life there! Garlic out in the back acreage of my central TX place- ? who from.
     
  16. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Guest

    Except for a pot of English pennyroyal that I just wanted my herbs are all culinary in nature which is what I keep them for. They have an ornamental purpose as well which is why I repotted my bay tree into a nice terra-cotta colored pot and set it in the driveway flowerbed.

    .....Alan.
     
  17. Elffriend

    Elffriend Well-Known Member

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    I grow my herbs in big planters right outside my kitchen door. It is just so nice to be able to step out, pick what I want and keep on cooking.

    And have you seen the price of fresh herbs at the grocery store???
     
  18. BertaBurtonLake

    BertaBurtonLake Well-Known Member

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    I love my herb garden. It smells so good and looks so pretty. I have sage, thyme, basil, oregano, chives, spearmint, peppermint, lavender, feverfew, chamomile, yarrow, mustard, dill, bergamot, parsley, and rosemary.

    I would love to get more medicinal herbs in my garden.

    ~Berta
     
  19. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I spent most of today noodling around the garden, and found some BIG HONKIN' CAT NIP.

    It was growing wild next to the comfrey I planted by the compost bins. :)

    I pulled up two big plants (about 2' tall each!), stripped off the roots, and brought them in to my catnip junkie cats.

    It was hilarious!

    At first, they were intimidated by Catnip On Steroids, but it didn't take long for the three of them to tear into those plants. The chewed on them, fought over them, rolled and rolled and rolled in them. It was a catnip orgy!!

    They're sleeping it off now.

    Does this make me an enabler? :shrug:

    Pony!
     
  20. Sasha

    Sasha Well-Known Member

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    I planted an herb garden along the house by the kitchen door and lined it with geodes. It runs under the playroom window, where the kids and I spend most of our time. When it rains we can smell the herbs. I can go outside and pick whatever I need to add to dinner. I can make pesto sauce (I could eat pesto off of a playing card) with basil. I use some of the herbs for medicinal reasons. I've got two big comfrey plants and if a child, goat, or dog gets wounded it is nothing to make a poultice out of a comfrey leaf.

    It's just one tiny step towards independence, you know?

    But I grow sage for tying into smudge sticks, cilantro for salsa, picante, and flavoring Mexican dishes. I put basil on my pizza. The mints (I have peppermint, spearmint, and chocolate mint in pots) smell delicious and I always can make tea. Lavender is used in sachets and othe such projects. I've got other stuff too...basically if it is called for in a recipe I use with any regularity I buy the herb for my garden.