Processed meat patties and deep-fried potato pieces? Please. Today’s culture has shifted to a faster, more convenient mindset, and in doing so, has lost track of its priorities. Luckily, there is a way to get fast, delicious food that is actually healthy: growing a personal herb garden.
The world is focused on the environment more now than it ever has been, and citizens from every corner of the globe are encouraged to be active in helping conserve our precious planet. Lifestyle changes include creating compost piles, producing and purchasing organic products and finding better solutions for the environment as a whole. Together, these ideas have inspired many to grow part of their meals at home, in an herb garden. While herb gardening is becoming more and more common, it is not a new concept. In fact, herbal seeds were discovered in prehistoric cave dwellings that date back half of a million years. Herbs have been used by nearly every culture for food and medicine and have contributed to some of our most important historic events. Christopher Columbus, for example, set sail to find a faster route to the East Indies to trade spices. Instead, he found America.
While personal herb gardens may not cause one to discover a new continent, it may open his/her eyes to a whole new way of eating and tasting. Fresh herbs add so much to a meal; once they’ve become a staple it’s hard to imagine meals before them. This spring, give your green thumb a new challenge: plant an herb garden. To get started, stop by Landscape Garden Centers when they host their herbal workshop. They’ll show you how to choose, plant, care for and use your herbs. If you can’t wait that long, here are a few tips to get you started:
• Herbs love sun. Keep them in sunlight for as many hours per day as possible. “A couple hours in the shade is alright, but sunshine is best,” said Krista Bos, specialist at Landscape Garden Centers.
• Most herbs grow best in well-drained soil. Mix organic matter into your soil to keep your plants nourished.
• “Once herbs hit the flowering stage, harvest the leaves for cooking and eating. If you can’t use them right away they can be stored. Keep an eye on the plants, too. As soon as they seed they lose their flavor. If you’re done using the herb for the season, however, you can let it flower without any consequences,” said Stacia Niemeyer, specialist at Landscape Garden Centers.
With these tips anyone can grow a successful herb garden. This common herb list will give you great options for cooking your next delicious meal:
Chives: This perennial couples best with potatoes, eggs, veal and cucumbers.
Basil: An annual plant, basil is a favorite when paired with tomato dishes, baked chicken, lamb or fish.
Thyme: Popular in stews, poultry stuffing and onion tarts, this tender perennial will grow between six and eight inches tall.
Dill: Used in soups, salads and main dishes, this annual will grow about three feet tall.
Oregano: An Italian favorite, this herb is popular in spaghetti, pizza, meats, stews and bread stuffing.
Rosemary: This herb, best with lamb, beef, pork, veal and vegetables, requires a bit of extra care. In the spring and summer it needs compost tea to grow.(1)
Parsley: This herb is found in almost every type of dish, but it shines in soups, stews, sauces and as a garnish. (2)
Sage: This easy to grow herb is best in soups, stuffings, dressings, teas, vegetables, fish, chicken, pork and lamb. (3)
Herb gardens do more than add flavor; they also add beauty. For an indoor garden, let Landscape Garden Centers help you pick the perfect pot. With the best selection of containers in the upper Midwest, you’re sure to find something you love. For an outdoor garden, herbs can add curb appeal to your home. Plant them alone or with your flowers as both will produce beautiful results. When your herbs are ready to harvest, try Lisa’s favorite recipe (below) to fully appreciate your beautiful new herb garden. Lisa’s husband, Jonathan Dorow, is a residential landscape designer at Landscape Garden Centers.
Mediterranean Herb Rub
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp pepper
Mix all the ingredients together until thoroughly combined.
Rub the mixture thoroughly into meat, poultry, fish or seafood
at least two hours before cooking.
(Also great on fresh roasted vegetables.)
Makes about 10 tbsp.
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